Acoustic Instruments

I’ve pretty much been chained to my desk these days, struggling to write the most difficult chapter of my dissertation, which broadly focuses on the historiography of medical specialties and professionalization. The chapter also provides an analysis of how diagnostic instruments (and other medical technologies) served as a nexus for the crystallization of specialist medical identities in the case of aural surgery in early 19C London.

I’ll share some tidbits as I go along, but for the meantime, I ran across a quote by John Harrison Curtis, who, despite having earned a reputation for his acoustic instruments–particularly his hearing trumpet–became severely critical of the use of acoustic instruments as a replacement for surgical and medical treatments for ear diseases. That is, Curtis insisted the deaf population should not turn to instruments until all other medical means have been exhausted:

Acoustic instruments, like surgical operations, should always e the last things resorted to. Hundreds have permanently lost their hearing through using instruments, who might, by proper treatment adopted early, and adhered to, have been restored to the full possession of that important and valuable function.

…The constant use of any fixed acoustic instrument exhausted the energy of the auditory nerve, and will, sooner or later, lead to irremediable deafness, which no instrument can assist.

Advice to the Deaf (1841)

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Happy New Year!

Yes, my holiday hiatus is officially over. It’s been a crazy end to 2010 and I blissfully look forward to 2011: no work assignments, no conference planning, no teaching…in other words, an entire year of just reading, researching, and writing. Ahhh…I can’t wait!

After a bumpy start to my travels, I’m now in London, hiding away in the British Library and a pile of nineteenth century treatises on aural surgery surrounding me. Regular posting, as you imagine, Dear Reader, shall resume.

Now, back to this reading! I need more content to share with you 🙂

Spooky Day!

Early, I know, but Happy Halloween! I have a busy weekend ahead of me–it’s not only Halloween, but also my best friend’s birthday and my 7-year anniversary with my partner. Lots of celebration awaits this weekend!

Happy celebrations, Dear Reader–and remember to brush after eating all that candy 😉