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Title: The body through the lens : anatomy and medical microscopy during the enlightenment
Author: Foland, Jed Rivera
ISNI:       0000 0004 5357 2213
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis examines the role of microscope technology in informing medical and anatomical knowledge during the Enlightenment. Past historians have claimed that microscopy generally stagnated until the popularisation of achromatic microscopes and cell theory in the middle of the nineteenth century. As evidence for this decline, historians have pointed to the poor quality and slow development of microscope designs until the popularisation of achromatic microscopes in the 1820s. In contrast, this thesis highlights the role of specific Enlightenment-era microscopes in answering medical and anatomical questions. It suggests that medical microscopy was far more advanced than previous scholarship has ascertained. Thus far, instrument historians have focused more attention on competing instrument makers as opposed to rival instrument users. This thesis presents several case studies which explore both makers and users. These concern the histories of Enlightenment-era epidemiology, reproduction theory, anatomy, and physiology as well as the different types of microscopes which influenced these fields. In terms of methodology, this thesis neither follows nor casts doubt on any particular theory of historical development; rather, it attempts to shed further light on available primary sources and their contexts. Presenting key case studies illustrates the difficulties that early microscope users faced in acquiring and publishing new observations. To explore the practice of early microscopy further, this thesis presents re-enactments of these case studies using Enlightenment-era microscopes and modern tissue samples. Thus, this thesis is a call to broaden the scope of primary sources available to historians of science and medicine to include instruments and re-enactments. This thesis finds that technological advances did not correlate to microscopical discovery in medicine or anatomy. Both simple and complex microscope designs aided anatomical and medical research. Broader advances in anatomy, physiology, and medical etiology dictated the utility of medical microscopy. Although various groups, such as the French clinicians, saw little need for microscopy towards the end of the eighteenth century, microscope-based evidence continued to play a diagnostic role among lesser-known practitioners despite its lack of visibility in medical literature.
Supervisor: Corsi, Pietro; Bennett, James A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History ; Eighteenth-Century Britain and Europe ; History of medicine ; History of science ; History of technology ; microscope history ; history of medical microscopy ; eighteenth-century microscopes