This week’s blog post takes the form of a video produced by Dr Christelle Rabier and Dr Jon Adams called ‘Capturing the Cut’.
In it we return again to the topic of bladder stones and lithotomy.
In the eighteenth century, surgeons were rapidly developing new techniques for invasive surgery. But how to transmit this information? Only a very few students at a time would be able to watch a procedure, and even then, it wasn’t clear what was happening amid the throng of assistants required to restrain the un-anaesthetised patient.
Early medical illustrations offer little information to the prospective surgeon, but over the course of a hundred years, a series of conventions emerged – cross-sections for interior views, dotted lines for motion, and the transposition of multiple sequential events onto the same plate – all of which meant that by the beginning of the nineteenth century, illustrators were able to depict the actual process of surgery, and spread medical innovations further afield than the confines of a single theatre.
Christelle Rabier, Wellcome Trust Medical History Fellow, focuses on the material, economic and political dimensions of medicine in early modern Europe. Her publications include Fields of Expertise (CSP, 2007) and a forthcoming special issue in Technology and Culture on the economy of medical technology in early modern Europe (July 2013). Her monograph, from which the argument of the video is drawn, will be published as Chirurgiens des Lumières–Surgeons of the Enlightenment (Vendémiaire, 2013).
Jon Adams grew up in Derbyshire and Saudi Arabia, studying literature and philosophy at the universities of Keele and Durham. From 2005 he was a researcher with LSE’s “How Well Do ‘Facts’Travel?” project, investigating how fiction is sometimes used to popularise scientific ideas. His first book, Interference Patterns, on the methodology of literary criticism, was published in 2007. He began producing short films for LSE in 2009, co-authored two papers on crowding and urban decay, and in 2011 was selected as a New Generation Thinker by BBC Radio 3.
© Copyright Christelle Rabier and Jon Adams, all rights reserved