|Staff||Dr Alun Withey - Lecturer|
Dr Dora Vargha - Lecturer
Dr Alison Haggett - Convenor
Dr Rebecca Williams - Lecturer
|Duration of Module||Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;|
This module is designed to enhance students’ understanding of recurring themes in the history of disease over a time scale extending from the Middle Ages to the twenty-first century. It will be taught by two or three different tutors, and its exact chronological and thematic focus will depend on which tutors are teaching the module in any given year. Students will evaluate closely key topics such as ‘What is a disease?’, patterns of disease in different societies, explanations of disease, and ways of managing disease. In the second half of the course they will also be encouraged to focus on the history of particular diseases. In this way students will trace key developments in the subject, and think about these comparatively across time and space. The module will also introduce students to some of the theoretical issues involved in studying the history of disease, such as how disease was defined and identified in past societies, and to a variety of different historical source materials, including patient narratives, medical treatises and representations of disease in literature. By using a combination of tutor-led seminars and lectures, student-led seminars and independent study, the module will enable students to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of taking a comparative approach to the study of disease. In this way students will learn to draw thematic comparisons between material from different sources, show awareness of contrasting approaches to research, and demonstrate an enhanced understanding of some of the philosophical questions arising from research into large historical themes. They will also learn to present some of these complex issues to the rest of the class by leading a seminar in the second half of the course.
ILO: Module-specific skills
- 1. Analyse developments in the history of disease and compare its relationship to other phenomena such as science, medicine, and religion across a variety of historical time-periods and contexts.
- 2. Compare and explain key historiographical developments in the history of disease across different societies and periods, and relate them to an overall conception of the subject.
- 3. Evaluate carefully and critically the approaches that historians and scholars working in other disciplines have taken to disease.
- 4. Define suitable research topics for independent study/student-led seminars in the history of disease,
- 5. Demonstrate the possibilities and limitations of comparative methodological approaches in historical research more generally.
ILO: Discipline-specific skills
- 6. Analyse the key developments in complex and unfamiliar political, social, cultural or intellectual environments.
- 7. Identify and deploy correct terminology in a comprehensible manner; use primary sources in a professional manner; present work in the format expected of historians, including footnoting and bibliographical references.
- 8. Assess critically different approaches to history in a contested area.
ILO: Personal and key skills
- 9. Work both in a team and independently.
- 10. Digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment.
- 11. Understand as a team how to lead a group discussion of a historical topic.
Weeks 1-10: Ten 1-hour lectures. The lectures will introduce the key concepts for the module and case studies from the tutor’s own area of specialism and suggest questions and themes which could be explored comparatively by the students themselves.
Weeks 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11: Six 2-hour seminars covering methodological and conceptual issues relating to the history of disease, and set-up for student-led seminars.
The seminars will explore particular issues in more depth through discussion of particular sources and historiographical debates.
The lectures and tutor-led seminars will focus around the following key themes:
What are diseases and their histories?
Models of disease – pre-modern and modern.
Patterns of disease – epidemic and chronic diseases
Narratives of disease – cultural constructions, writing about illness (by patients, doctors, and observers), representations of disease
Mental health and illness – pre-modern and modern
Medical practice and institutional contexts for treatment
They will also lay the foundations for the student-led seminars in the second half of the course.
Weeks 12-15 Student groups will meet the convenor regularly to plan their student-led seminar
Weeks 16-20: Five 2-hour seminars led by groups of 3-4 students, focusing on case studies of a particular disease or theme. Topics and periods will vary according to tutor availability and student choice but may include: Plague, Leprosy, Tuberculosis, Smallpox, Cholera, AIDS, Venereal Disease, Madness, Allergies, Reproductive Diseases, Obesity, Anorexia, Old Age, Cancer, Occupational Diseases.
Week 21: Concluding 2-hour session: discussion of overarching issues and comparative points.
Weeks 1, 3, 5, 7, 9: Five sessions covering methodological and conceptual issues relating to the history of disease, and set-up for student-led seminars. Each session will be taught through one 2-hour seminar and one 1-hour lecture. The lectures will focus on worked examples or case studies from the tutor’s own area of specialism and suggest questions and themes which could be explored comparatively by the students themselves. The seminars will explore particular issues in more depth through discussion of particular sources and historiographical debates. The lectures and tutor-led seminars will focus around the following key themes:
- What is a disease?
- Models of Disease – can include Humoralism, Scientific Medicine.
- Patterns of Disease – can include Epidemics vs. Chronic Disease; Measuring Disease; Global Patterns of Disease.
- Managing Disease – can include Diagnosis, Treatment, Expectations of Treatment, Preventative Medicine, Holistic Medicine.
- Narratives of Disease – can include Cultural Constructions of Disease, Writing about Illness (by patients, doctors, and observers), Representations of Disease in eg. Literature, Oral History.
- They will also lay the foundations for the student-led seminars in the second half of the course.
Weeks 11, 13, 15, 17, 19: Five 2-hour seminars led by groups of 2 or 3 students, focusing on case studies of a particular disease. Topics and periods will vary according to tutor availability and student choice but may include: Plague, Leprosy, AIDS, Venereal Disease, Madness, Allergies, Reproductive Diseases, Obesity, Anorexia, Old Age, Cancer, Occupational Diseases, Lovesickness, Possession, Epilepsy, Depression/Melancholy, Lovesickness, or Hysteria. Alongside these, there will be five 1-hour lectures, as for Weeks 1-9 above.
Week 21: Concluding session: discussion of overarching issues and comparative points.
Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)
|Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities||Guided independent study||Placement / study abroad|
Details of learning activities and teaching methods
|Category||Hours of study time||Description|
|Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities||11||11x 1 hour lectures to run on alternate weeks over both terms, as described in syllabus plan above.|
|Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities||12||6 x 2 hour tutor led seminars to run in weeks 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 21, as described in syllabus plan above.|
|Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities||10||5 x 2 hour seminars in weeks 11, 13, 15, 17, and 19. Each led by a group of 2 or 3 students. Topics should be chosen from a menu of subjects agreed in advance by tutors. While tutors give guidance and a basic reading list, students are responsible for designing seminar activities and identifying further reading materials.|
|Guided independent study||267||Students prepare for seminars, essay, final report and exam through reading and research; they also work in groups to lead seminars based on projects that have been developed.|
|Form of assessment||Size of the assessment (eg length / duration)||ILOs assessed||Feedback method|
|Essay plan||500 words||1-8, 10||Verbal and written|
Summative assessment (% of credit)
|Coursework||Written exams||Practical exams|
Details of summative assessment
|Form of assessment||% of credit||Size of the assessment (eg length / duration)||ILOs assessed||Feedback method|
|Essay||30||3000 words||1-8, 10||Verbal and written|
|Student-led seminar [comprising: leading a student led seminar (36%) and attending all student-led seminars (4%)]||40||2 hours||1-11||Verbal and written|
|Take-away exam||30||3000 words||1-8, 10||Verbal and written|
Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)
|Original form of assessment||Form of re-assessment||ILOs re-assessed||Timescale for re-assessment|
|Essay||Essay||1-8, 10||Referral/deferral period|
|Student-led seminar and participation||1500 words (written by student individually) describing and reflecting on the proposed seminar activities and materials equating to one persons contribution (c. 45 minutes), plus proposed handout or powerpoint from seminar (not more than 2 sides of A4) and seminar reading list (not more than 1 side of A4)||1-11||Referral/deferral period|
|Take-away exam||Take-away exam||1-8, 10||Referral/deferral period|
The re-assessment consists of a 3,000 word essay and 3,000 word take-away exam, as in the original assessment, but replaces leading and participating in student-led seminars with a written seminar plan and reading list that corresponds to one student’s contribution to such a seminar. The plan should outline how the seminar is to be structured and organised as well as detailing the material to be used. This will enable a reader to gain a sense of what the student intended to do in the seminar, the rationale for this activity, and when this activity / discussion would take place.
Indicative learning resources - Basic reading
Beier, Lucinda McCray, Sufferers and Healers: The experience of illness in seventeenth-century England (London and New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1987) .
Burnham, John. What is Medical History? (Oxford: Polity Press, 2005).
Bynum, W. F., and Roy Porter, Companion Encyclopaedia to the History of Medicine (London: Routledge, 1993).
Hamlin, Christopher. Cholera: the Biography. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).
Healy, David. Mania. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011).
Healy, Margaret, Fictions of Disease in Early Modern England: Bodies, Plagues and Politics (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001).
Jackson, Mark. Asthma: the Biography. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).
King, Helen, The Disease of Virgins: Green sickness, chlorosis and the problems of puberty (London and New York: Routledge, 2004).
Porter, Roy, Disease, Medicine and Society in England 1550-1860 (Basingstoke: Macmillan Education, 1987).
Porter, Roy and Porter, Dorothy, In sickness and in health: the British experience 1650-1850 (London: Fourth Estate, 1988).
Porter Roy (ed.), The Cambridge Illustrated History of Medicine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).
Porter, Roy, The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present (London: HarperCollins, 1997).
Porter, Roy (ed.), Patients and Practitioners: Lay Perceptions of Medicine in Pre-Industrial Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985).
Rawcliffe, Carole. Leprosy in Medieval England. (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2006).
Veith, Ilza, Hysteria: The History of a Disease (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1965).
Wear, Andrew, Knowledge and Practice in English Medicine,1550-1680 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).
Module has an active ELE page?
Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources
Podcast of lectures from 2011 Anglo-American Conference of Historians on Health in History:
Includes several good lectures on disease from big names in the field.
Available as distance learning?
Last revision date
Key words search
Disease, Health, Medicine, Medical History, Plague, Leprosy