Doctoring the South: Southern Physicians and Everyday Medicine in the Mid-Nineteenth Century

By Steven M. Stowe | Go to book overview

Chapter Two
THE SCIENCE OF ALL LIFE

Just as medical institutions created but also crossed a line between their world and the larger society, so the culture of learning inside schools made orthodoxy less of a realm apart than many students and teachers supposed. Histories of medical education have focused largely on broad institutional and professional changes and have had surprisingly little to say about the everyday modes of teaching and learning. This chapter looks at midcentury medical education in this immediate sense, seeing it as a matrix of ideals and practices created by teachers and students together, one shaped by happenstance, as well as by design. This means looking at how the intellectual substance of orthodoxy was shaped by its fraternal setting, which flooded medical learning with a moral light as men learned that judging others’ character was essential to the work of doctoring. And it means understanding how teachers and students, even as they reached for broad principles and general skills, turned again and again to individual practice as the touchstone of learning.1

Specifically, what follows is a look at four contexts of learning that students and teachers themselves emphasized in their writing: lectures, hospital wards, anatomical dissection, and the written medical thesis. Each context was a way for men to master information and fulfill “requirements.” But, more important, each was a way for them to imagine what good medicine should be in its southern setting. As men’s writing reveals, these four contexts, despite undergoing some change during this period, helped create a remarkable continuity in the physician’s identity. Essential to this continuity was the profoundly subjective cast imparted to learning by physicians’ reliance on their individual experience in community practice. Although breadth of knowledge remained a powerful goal for orthodoxy, it is crucial to understand how frequently teachers

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Doctoring the South: Southern Physicians and Everyday Medicine in the Mid-Nineteenth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Studies in Social Medicine ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - Physicians, Everyday Medicine, and the Country Orthodox Style 1
  • Part One - Choosing Medicine 13
  • Chapter One - Men, Schools, and Careers 15
  • Chapter Two - The Science of All Life 41
  • Chapter Three - Starting out 76
  • Part Two - Doing Medicine 99
  • Chapter Four - Livelihood 101
  • Chapter Five - Bedside 131
  • Part Three - Making Medicine 165
  • Chapter Six - The Lives of Others 167
  • Chapter Seven - Landscape, Race, and Faith 200
  • Chapter Eight - Witnessing 228
  • Epilogue - The Civil War and the Persistence of the Country Orthodox Style 259
  • Notes 273
  • Bibliography 327
  • Index 365
  • Studies in Social Medicine 374
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