Roy porter student prize essay the bounds of domestic healing: Medical recipes, storytelling and surgery in early modern England

Seth Stein Lejacq

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper investigates ways in which early modern English recipe collections constructed domestic medicine as broader and more powerful than is often appreciated. It shows that their compilers frequently selected recipes that promised to allow them to address a wide range of surgical ailments, to heal serious surgical conditions medicinally, and to avoid invasive interventions. Claims of remedies' virtues and stories of their successes imagined domestic medicine not only as a 'first port of call', but also as a potent counterpart to the work of practitioners; a last resort when practitioners had failed; and as an alternative to the knife. Using the writings of the surgeon John Woodall, it argues that surgeons were sensitive to the attitudes and preferences that motivated this collection. In seeking to discipline surgery, Woodall invoked the stereotypical gentleness of women's and domestic medicine in an effort to inculcate greater discernment in the use of violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-468
Number of pages18
JournalSocial History of Medicine
Volume26
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2013

Keywords

  • John Woodall
  • domestic medicine
  • efficacy claims
  • medical recipes
  • patients
  • surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • History

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