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Learning medicine by the book: reading and writing surgical manuals in early modern London

Leong, E; (2020) Learning medicine by the book: reading and writing surgical manuals in early modern London. BJHS Themes , 5 pp. 93-110. 10.1017/bjt.2020.7. Green open access

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Abstract

Centred on Thomas Brugis's popular Vade mecum, or A Companion for a Chyrurgion fitted for times of Peace or War (1651), this essay considers the role of the instructional book in early modern surgical knowledge and practice. By tracing the fortuna of the Vade mecum from production to use, it shows that, far from being static texts, instructional books were dynamic objects responding and adapting to the changing needs of knowledge communities. I begin by situating the Vade mecum within surgical practice more broadly in early modern England, which shows the key role that the practices of translation and compilation played in the production of surgical manuals. Most producers of surgical manuals were practitioners-turned-authors, and their works typically drew on a mix of lived experience both at the bedside and in the library. Brugis, who was exemplary in this respect, was particularly interested in providing instructions for hands-on practices involved in surgical operations and medicine production. In the last section, which focuses on readers and users, I analyse annotations and additional writings in surviving copies of the Vade mecum to recover the agency of reader–practitioners and trace collective ownership of the book across time and space.

Type: Article
Title: Learning medicine by the book: reading and writing surgical manuals in early modern London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/bjt.2020.7
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1017/bjt.2020.7
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of British Society for the History of Science. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10127460
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