- Region: Europe; France; Italy
- Times: 17th to 19th centuries
- Themes: Environmental Humanities; History of the Book; History of Science; History of Medicine; Intellectual History
Ori Ben-Shalom is a PhD student in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard. His dissertation, “Bookish Doctors: Medicine, Erudition, and Reform in Enlightenment Italy,” examines the ways in which new knowledge projects founded on humanistic learnings shaped the medical profession in 18th-century Italy. By focusing on doctors’ literary techniques, medical libraries, text-burdened anatomies, and use of historical research, Ori shows that the humanities played a crucial role in the development of medical practice long after the so-called Scientific Revolution. He argues that a profound commitment to medical humanism pushed physicians to advance their experimental clinical work and endowed them with the authority and expertise to intervene in political reforms of public health and the environment. Yet, his research also exhibits how this set of practices was questioned, leading towards the end of the century to new scientific genres and reformed institutions in which humanistic erudition had only a marginal place.