The Medical Mandarins: The French Academy of Medicine in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

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Oxford University Press, Jan 1, 1995 - Medical - 306 pages
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This wide-ranging and imaginative book examines the social and scientific role of the French Academy of Medicine from its creation in 1820 to the outbreak of the Second World War. The first chapters focus on the institution and its activities, including the evaluation of medical innovations and the cultivation of professional memory through eulogies and institutional art. Weisz argues that the Academy was gradually transformed from a low-status public institution that was central to French medical science in the nineteenth century to an "establishment" institution largely irrelevant to medical science but playing a key role in public health policy. The second half of the book uses the activities and literary productions of the Academy to explore broader issues of medical history. The Academy's role in the regulation and scientific study of mineral waters illuminates processes of discipline formation in medical science and explores the therapeutic specificity of French medicine. Academic debates are used to investigate the appropriation of new research techniques like animal experimentation and quantification in therapeutic reasoning. Academic eulogies provide a starting point for the evolving medical and scientific reputation of Laennec, the inventor of ausculation, Using techniques of prosopography applied to the membership of the Academy, Weisz goes on to analyze the role of the Parisian medical elite in French medicine and its social place within the French bourgeoisie. His concluding chapter examines the emerging self-images of this Parisian elite in academic eulogies.

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Creating the French Royal Academy of Medicine
The Academy and Its Structures
Commissions and Prizes
Representation and Memory in the Academy
The Academy and Mineral Waters
Academic Debate and Therapeutic Reasoning in
Creating a Modern Medical Hero
Academic Perspectives on the Parisian Medical Elite
Elite Medical Careers in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
The Medical Elite in French Society
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About the author (1995)

George Weisz is at McGill University.

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