One of my favorite parts of experiencing a book–whether it’s a nineteenth century treatise, or a trashy beach novel–is reading the dedication page.  I always wonder how much time and effort the author puts into deciding who gets the honor of the dedication (and of course, thinking about who I will dedicate my dissertation to…) and am at times marveled at the beauty of the words.

Having said that, here’s one of my favorite dedication from John Cunningham Saunders’ (1773-1810) atlas, The Anatomy of the Human Ear (1806):

To Astley Cooper, Esq., F.R.S.


The dedication of this book to you indulges at once my gratitude and my ambition. I avail myself of this opportunity to acknowledge the many obligations which your kindness and uniform attention have conferred on me. With pleasure I render this tribute to your friendship.

In seeking the authority of your name I have consulted the means of enhancing my own reputation. Who can more properly patronize a work on the Ear than one who has signalized himself by the elucidation of its diseases? Who so well appreciate the merits which it may possess, or shield its defects against the severity of criticism? The world is acquainted with your professional abilities, and respects your opinion. Your enthusiasm and unremitting endeavours to cultivate the department of Surgery, are displayed in the works which you have already given to the public; and it is confidently predicted that your talent for observation, quickened by an ardent desire to improve the science, will contribute fresh accessions to our knowledge, and add lustre to the profession.

But it is not merely by your own labours, great as they are, that you benefit society. Placed as a principal teacher in the first medical school in Great Britain, you impart a portion of your energy to your pupils, many of whom will be excited by the influence of your example to professional exertions not worthy of the place where they received their education.

I am, Sir,

With respect and attachment,
Your most obedient Servant,

J.C. Saunders.

Ely Place, March 12, 1806.

On a related note: how come we don’t close our correspondence that way anymore? There’s some romantic flair in professing one’s respect to another…no? Too outdated?

The PhD Board: November ’10

November’s been a pretty hectic month for me. In addition to all the deadlines and responsibilities, I’ve also moved to Toronto (from suburbia). Well, I’m still ‘moving.’ Work gets in the way of packing and unpacking.

So here’s my temporary PhD board, courtesy of an IHPST carrel. Not as pretty, but at least it’s doing it’s job.

And yes, you don’t have to remind me: I’m aware my Monday Series is late–it’s on my laptop…which is at my old home. Sighs.

P.S.: happy bleated Thanksgiving to my American friends!

History of Medicine Reading Group

IHPST at University of Toronto hosts several reading groups on various HPS topics. This year, I’m organizing and hosting the History of Medicine Reading Group, to be held on Thursdays 2:30-3:30 at Gerstein Library. If you’re a UofT student or scholar and are interested in joining, please send me an email. A schedule will be determined shortly, but most likely we’ll meet once or twice a month for the academic year.

This year’s selection is: Mark Jenner and Patrick Wallis (eds), Medicine and the Market in England and its Colonies, c.1450-c.1850 (2007).

What was the medical marketplace? What is a ‘medical marketplace’? This book provides the first critical examination of medicine and the market in pre-modern England, colonial North America and British India.

Chapters cover the most important themes in the social history of medicine from the fifteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries, addressing healthcare in town and country, among rich and poor, women and men, and examining both patients and practitioners. Drawing on recent developments in the history of exchange, they offer new understandings of the ways in which diverse aspects of healthcare operated and changed in this period of social and economic transformation.

Each chapter offers significant new interpretation of its field based upon a critical examination of the applicability of the medical marketplace model and presents substantial new research in an accessible style.

Chapters are as follows:
* Introduction–M.S.R.Jenner & P.Wallis
* Medical Economies in Fifteenth-Century England–R.Ralley
* Competition and Cooperation in the Early Modern Medical Economy–P.Wallis
* The Rural Medical Marketplace in Southern England c.1570-1720–I.Mortimer
* Magic, Alchemy and the Medical Economy in Early Modern England: The Case of Robert Fludd’s Magnetical Medicine–L.Kassell
* The Marketplace of Print –M.Fissell
* Recipe Collections and the Currency of Medical Knowledge in the Early Modern ‘Medical Marketplace’–E.Leong & S.Pennell
* Midwifery in the ‘Medical Marketplace’–A.Wilson
* Illness in the ‘Social Credit’ and ‘Money’ Economies of Eighteenth-Century New England–B.Mutschler
* Medical Marketplaces beyond the West: Bazaar Medicine, Trade and the English Establishment in Eighteenth Century India–P.Chakrabarti
* Monopoly, Markets and Public Health: Pollution and Commerce in the History of London Water 1780-1830–M.S.R.Jenner
* Medicine, Quackery and the Free Market: The ‘War’ Against Morison’s Pills and the Construction of the Medical Profession, c.1830-c.1850–M.Brown

If you have any questions, please email me.