Dr Andrew Mendelsohn
Reader in History of Science and Medicine
I joined QMUL in 2012 with 20 years of international academic experience. I studied at Harvard and Princeton, taught in five countries. I held a position at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, with which I continue to collaborate. I also worked at Imperial College London, where I served as head of the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine.
I seek to understand the changing ways we know and make our world, where these ways come from and what their politics are, and with what consequences.
I pursued these questions in German, French, British, and U.S. history, from the 16th through the 20th centuries. This began with medicine’s bacteriological revolution, about which there was a story of triumph of one way of knowing, that of laboratory “reductionism.” Instead I showed “two cultures” within one science and its equivocal legacy in 20th-century biomedicine.
Working outward from bacteriologists as experts and makers (Pasteur: from wine to vaccines), I now study the development of inquiry outside the sciences – in governance and production. Observation and reasoning by physicians in their juridical and administrative roles is a current focus. .
- How physicians know, 1500-1950: I am co-leading with Volker Hess a five-year, ERC-funded research project under this title and welcome inquiries from scholars at all levels interested in being associates or guests of the project; see the project website (link is external). The project involves a cooperation agreement between QMUL and Charité University Medicine Berlin where the project is based.
- Ways of writing and knowing: history of scholarly, administrative, commercial, and other writing practices (‘paper technology’) and their uses and effects in medicine, natural history, and the Baconian sciences.
- Observation at large: in medicine, agriculture, industry, and government – beyond the scientific disciplines – and observation-related practices of experimenting, classifying, explaining, predicting
- Industrializing life and its sciences (plant, animal, microbial), 18th-20th centuries
- ‘Science without laws’ – knowing from cases, models, exemplary materials
- Paper Technology: Ein Forschungsinstrument der frühneuzeitlichen Wissenschaft (Paper Technology: A Research Instrument of Early Modern Science), ed. with V. Hess, special issue of NTM Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin / Journal of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine 21 (link is external) (2013).
- Science and the City, ed. with S. Dierig and J. Lachmund (Osiris 18; University of Chicago Press, 2003). Reviewed in Isis 96, 2005, p. 419; Urban Studies 42, 2005, pp. 179-81; Urban History Review 33 (link is external), 2004.
Peer-reviewed articles and chapters
- “Paper Technology und Wissensgeschichte” (Paper Technology and History of Knowledge), with V. Hess, NTM Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin / Journal of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine 21 (link is external)(2013).
- “Fallgeschichte, Historia, Klassifikation: François Boissier de Sauvages bei der Schreibarbeit” (Case History, Historia, Classification: François Boissier de Sauvages at Work on Paper), with V. Hess, NTM Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin / Journal of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine 21 (link is external)(2013).
- “The World on a Page: Making a General Observation in the Eighteenth Century,” Histories of Scientific Observation (link is external), ed. Lorraine Daston and Elizabeth Lunbeck (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), 396-420
- “Microscopie de la vie moderne” in Lieux de savoir: les mains de l’intellect (link is external), ed. Christian Jacob (Paris: Albin Michel, 2011), pp. 765-89.
- “Case and Series: Medical Knowledge and Paper Technology, 1600-1900,” with V. Hess, History of Science 48 (link is external) (2010), 287-314
- “Die Leben der Zelle,” Paragrana: Internationale Zeitschrift für Historische Anthropologie (2006), Beiheft 3: Inszeniertes Wissen: Formen und Medien der Repräsentation (link is external), ed. R.M. Kiesow and H. Schmidgen, pp. 41-90.
- “Der Mikroskopiker des modernen Lebens” in Bakteriologie und Moderne: Studien zur Biopolitik des Unsichtbaren, 1870-1920 (link is external), ed. Philipp Sarasin et al. (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Wissenschaft, 2006), pp. 176-219.
- “Von der Ausrottung zum Gleichgewicht: Wie Epidemien nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg komplex wurden,” in Bakteriologie und Moderne: Studien zur Biopolitik des Unsichtbaren, 1870-1920 (link is external), ed. Philipp Sarasin et al. (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Wissenschaft, 2006), pp. 239-81.
- “Message in a Bottle: The Business of Vaccines and the Nature of Heredity after 1880” in A Cultural History of Heredity III: 19th and Early 20th Centuries (link is external), ed. Hans-Jörg Rheinberger and Staffan Müller-Wille (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science Preprint 294: Berlin, 2005), pp. 85-100.
- “A Bacteriological Approach to Controlling Typhoid,” in Health, Disease and Society in Europe, 1800-1930 (link is external), ed. Deborah Brunton (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004), pp. 185-88.
- “Toward an Urban History of Science,” co-authored with S. Dierig and J. Lachmund, Osiris 18 (link is external) (2003), pp. 1-19.
- “The Microscopist of Modern Life,” Osiris 18 (link is external) (2003), pp. 150-170.
- “Lives of the Cell,” Journal of the History of Biology 36 (link is external) (2003), pp. 1-37.
- “‘Like All That Lives’: Biology, Medicine and Bacteria in the Age of Pasteur and Koch,” History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 24 (link is external) (2002), pp. 3-35.
- “Medicine and the Making of Bodily Inequality in Twentieth-Century Europe” in Heredity and Infection: The History of Disease Transmission (link is external), ed. Jean-Paul Gaudillière and Ilana Löwy (Studies in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, ed. John Krige; London and New York: Routledge, 2001), pp. 21-79.
- “Das wilde Gehirn: Über Natur und Kultur im Zeitalter des Strukturalismus,” in Ecce Cortex: Beiträge zur Geschichte des modernen Gehirns (link is external), ed. Michael Hagner (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 1999), pp. 286-316. “The Savage Brain: On Nature and Culture in the Age of Structuralism.” This is a study of the relations between the natural and social sciences in the 20th century, focusing especially on structural anthropology and Claude Lévi-Strauss and on linguistics and Roman Jakobson.
- “Von der Ausrottung zum Gleichgewicht: Wie Epidemien nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg komplex wurden,” in Strategien der Kausalität: Konzepte der Krankheitsverursachung im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (link is external), ed. Christoph Gradmann and Thomas Schlich, Neuere Medizin und Wissenschaftsgeschichte (Centaurus Verlag, 1999), pp. 227-268. Translation of an article listed below.
- “From Eradication to Equilibrium: How Epidemics Became Complex after World War I,” in Greater than the Parts: Holism in Biomedicine, 1920-1950 (link is external), ed. Christopher Lawrence and George Weisz (Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 303-331.
- “Aristotle and Averroes on Method in the Middle Ages and Renaissance: The ‘Oxford Gloss’ to the Physics and Pietro d'Afeltro's Expositio Proemii Averroys,” co-authored with Charles Burnett, in Method and Order in Renaissance Philosophy of Nature: The Aristotle Commentary Tradition (link is external), ed. Daniel A. di Liscia, Eckhard Kessler and Charlotte Methuen (Ashgate, 1997), pp. 53-111.
- “‘Typhoid Mary’ Strikes Again: The Social and the Scientific in the Making of Modern Public Health,” Isis 86 (link is external) (1995), pp. 268-277
- “Alchemy and Politics in England, 1649-1665,” Past and Present 135 (link is external) (1992), 30-78
Selected other articles
- “Bactériologie” in Dictionnaire de la pensée médicale (link is external), ed. Dominique Lecourt (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2004), pp. 147-153.
- “Bacteriology and Microbiology” in The Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science (link is external), ed. John Heilbron (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. 75-77.
- Review of Peter Baldwin, Contagion and the State in Europe, 1830-1930 (Cambridge University Press), in Journal of Modern History 76 (2004), pp. 940-43.
- Review of Karl-Heinz Leven, Die Geschichte der Infektionskrankheiten: Von der Antike bis ins 20. Jahrhundert, in Isis 90 (link is external)(1999), pp. 351-52.
- “Abel Strikes Back,” review of Frank J. Sulloway, Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creative Lives, in The Wilson Quarterly 21 (link is external) (Winter 1997), pp. 88-89.
Advisory Editor, Isis (link is external), 2000-2003
I welcome applications from candidates wishing to undertake doctoral research in the following areas:
• Governance, experts, and publics in early modern and modern Europe
• Knowledge in production (agriculture, pharmacy, mining, industry)
• Science, policy, and politics of health and disease, 19th-20th centuries
• History of inquiry, reasoning, evidence, and the case in medicine and law; projects at intersections between medical and legal history
• History of environmental sciences, projects at intersections of environmental history and history of science
• Other topics in history of the medical, human, and life sciences