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Title: Sickness in correspondence : gentry letter writing and the subject of health in eighteenth-century Yorkshire, County Durham, and Northumberland
Author: Reynolds, Kathleen Marie
ISNI:       0000 0004 7226 4128
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2018
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This study uses eighteenth-century gentry correspondence from Yorkshire, County Durham, and Northumberland to investigate how letter writers discussed sickness and managed medical treatments in the home. Letter writers went beyond expressions of concern and reassurances of good health in correspondence by providing details about the experience of falling ill, diagnosing conditions, choosing treatments, and caring for their sick relatives. The extent of household medical work in the eighteenth century is an understudied topic compared to earlier centuries. This thesis redresses the lacuna in research by analyzing caregiving, medical knowledge, and medical expertise to reconsider the structure of household medicine and the extent to which the household functioned autonomously during illness. The chapters can be envisioned as a series of thematic concentric circles. Beginning with the bodies of letter writers and their families (Chapter Two), each chapter expands its focus to wider elements of household health and covers caregiving practices (Chapter Three) and medical knowledge (Chapter Four). Chapter Five justifies how the household could be a site of medical expertise which simultaneously paid for medical care by introducing a sociological model which allows for the coexistence of experts with differing but complimentary expertises. Interactions with paid practitioner are the subject of Chapter Six. This thesis also explores continuity and change in medical and gendered behaviour over the eighteenth-century. Arguments about domestic healing as a female activity are mediated by the clear interest and involvement of their male relatives, and the emphasis on coexistence and cooperation between genders. Mediating between the survival of medical practice, the change in medical theories, and the gradual decreasing interest in discussing caregiving practices through correspondence allows this thesis to position the eighteenth-century household between earlier histories of household medicine and the spread of hospital medicine in the nineteenth century.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available