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School of History

Dr Andrew Mendelsohn

Andrew

Reader in History of Science and Medicine

Email: a.mendelsohn@qmul.ac.uk
Room Number: ArtsTwo 3.05

Profile

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.

Research

Research Interests:

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

Publications

Government, evidence and expertise, community and the common good, law and medicine, body politics

“Miners’ Chest: How Performative Accounting Forged the Ills of Industry” in Accounting for Health: Calculation, Paperwork, and Medicine, 1500-2000, ed. Axel C. Hüntelmann and Oliver Falk (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2021), 305–36. Publisher.

Civic Medicine: Physician, Polity, and Pen in Early Modern Europe, ed. J. Andrew Mendelsohn, Annemarie Kinzelbach, and Ruth Schilling (London; New York: Routledge, 2020). Full access QMUL Library. Publisher.

“Public Practice: The European Longue Durée of Knowing for Health and Polity” in Civic Medicine: Physician, Polity, and Pen in Early Modern Europe, ed. J. Andrew Mendelsohn, Annemarie Kinzelbach, and Ruth Schilling (London; New York: Routledge, 2020), 7–64. Full access QMUL Library. Publisher.

“Reporting for Action: Forms of Writing between Medicine and Polity in Milan, 1580–1650,” with Laura Di Giammatteo, in Civic Medicine: Physician, Polity, and Pen in Early Modern Europe, ed. J. Andrew Mendelsohn, Annemarie Kinzelbach, and Ruth Schilling (London; New York: Routledge, 2020), 135–60. Full access QMUL Library. Publisher.

“Common Knowledge: Bodies, Evidence and Expertise in Early Modern Germany,” with Annemarie Kinzelbach, Isis 108:2 (2017), 259–79. DOI.

“Lepraschau als Urszene medizinischen Gutachtens” (Leprosy Inspection and Certification as Originary Scene of Medical Expertise, 1300s-1600s) in Medizinisches Gutachten: Geschichte einer neuzeitlichen Praxis, ed. Alexa Geisthövel and Volker Hess (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2017), 43–69. Amazon.

“Toward an Urban History of Science,” with S. Dierig and J. Lachmund, Osiris 18 (2003), 1–19. JSTOR.

“Alchemy and Politics in England, 1649-1665,” Past and Present 135 (1992), 30–78. JSTOR.

Sciences of life, language, mind and brain, heredity, environment, nature and culture

“Message in a Bottle: Vaccines and the Nature of Heredity after 1880” in Heredity Explored: Between Public Domain and Experimental Science, 1850-1930, ed. Staffan Müller-Wille, Christina Brandt (Series: Transformations: Studies in the History of Science and Technology, ed. Jed Z. Buchwald; Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2016), 243–64. Google Books Preview.

“Hunting Down the Chimera of Multiple Disciplinarity in Conservation Science,” with S.P. Pooley and E.J. Milner-Gulland, Conservation Biology 28:1 (2014), 22–32. Open access.

“‘Like All That Lives’: Biology, Medicine and Bacteria in the Age of Pasteur and Koch,” History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 24 (2002), 3–35. JSTOR.

“Lives of the Cell,” Journal of the History of Biology 36 (2003), 1–37.  JSTOR.

Translation: “Die Leben der Zelle,” Paragrana: Internationale Zeitschrift für Historische Anthropologie (2006), Beiheft 3: Inszeniertes Wissen: Formen und Medien der Repräsentation, ed. R.M. Kiesow and H. Schmidgen, 41–90.  Publisher.

“Das wilde Gehirn: Über Natur und Kultur im Zeitalter des Strukturalismus” (The Savage Brain: On Nature and Culture in the Age of Structuralism) in Ecce Cortex: Beiträge zur Geschichte des modernen Gehirns, ed. Michael Hagner (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 1999), 286–316. On 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. Google Books Preview.

Cases and classification, observation, archives and information, textual practices

“Miners’ Chest: How Performative Accounting Forged the Ills of Industry” in Accounting for Health: Calculation, Paperwork, and Medicine, 1500-2000, ed. Axel C. Hüntelmann and Oliver Falk (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2021), 305–36. Publisher.

“Empiricism in the Library: Medicine’s Case Histories” in Science in the Archives: Pasts, Presents, Futures, ed. Lorraine Daston (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017), 85–109. Google Books Preview.

“The World on a Page: Making a General Observation in the Eighteenth Century,” Histories of Scientific Observation, ed. Lorraine Daston and Elizabeth Lunbeck (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), 396–420. Google Books Preview.

 “Sauvages’ Paperwork: How Disease Classification Arose from Scholarly Note-Taking,” with Volker Hess, Early Science and Medicine 19 (2014), 471–503. JSTOR.

Translation: “Fallgeschichte, Historia, Klassifikation: François Boissier de Sauvages bei der Schreibarbeit,” NTM Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin / Journal of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine 21 (2013). Open access.

Paper Technology in der Frühen Neuzeit (Paper Technology in the Early Modern Period), 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 21:1 (2013).  Overview essay: “Paper Technology und Wissensgeschichte” (Paper Technology and History of Knowledge), 1–10. Open access.

“Case and Series: Medical Knowledge and Paper Technology, 1600-1900,” with Volker Hess, History of Science 48 (2010), 287–314. Google Scholar.

“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,” with Charles Burnett, in Method and Order in Renaissance Philosophy of Nature: The Aristotle Commentary Tradition, ed. D.A. di Liscia, E. Kessler, C. Methuen (Ashgate, 1997), 53–111. Google Books Preview.

Civic and urban histories

Civic Medicine: Physician, Polity, and Pen in Early Modern Europe, ed. with A. Kinzelbach, R. Schilling (London; New York: Routledge, 2020). Full access QMUL Library. Publisher. Reviewed in Gesnerus 77 (2020): 452–53 (open access).

Science and the City, ed. with S. Dierig, J. Lachmund (Osiris 18; University of Chicago Press, 2003). JSTOR. Reviewed in Isis 96, 2005, 419; Urban Studies 42, 2005, 179–81; Urban History Review 33, 2004; and other journals.

“Toward an Urban History of Science,” with S. Dierig and J. Lachmund, Osiris 18 (2003), 1–19. JSTOR.

“The Microscopist of Modern Life,” Osiris 18 (2003), 150–70. JSTOR.

Epidemics and epidemiology, public health, sciences of infection, laboratory, clinic and field

“A Bacteriological Approach to Controlling Typhoid,” in Health, Disease and Society in Europe, 1800-1930: A Source Book, ed. Deborah Brunton (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004), 185–88. Google Books Preview.

“The Microscopist of Modern Life,” Osiris 18 (2003), 150–70. JSTOR.

Translations: “Microscopie de la vie moderne” in Lieux de savoir: les mains de l’intellect, ed. Christian Jacob (Paris: Albin Michel, 2011), 765–89; “Der Mikroskopiker des modernen Lebens” in Bakteriologie und Moderne: Studien zur Biopolitik des Unsichtbaren, 1870-1920, ed. Philipp Sarasin et al. (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Wissenschaft, 2006), 176–219. 

“‘Like All That Lives’: Biology, Medicine and Bacteria in the Age of Pasteur and Koch,” History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 24 (2002), 3–35. JSTOR.

“Medicine and the Making of Bodily Inequality in Twentieth-Century Europe” in Heredity and Infection: The History of Disease Transmission, 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), 21–79. Google Books Preview.

“From Eradication to Equilibrium: How Epidemics Became Complex after World War I,” in Greater than the Parts: Holism in Biomedicine, 1920-1950, ed. Christopher Lawrence and George Weisz (Oxford University Press, 1998), 303–31. Google Books Preview.

Translation: “Von der Ausrottung zum Gleichgewicht: Wie Epidemien nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg komplex wurden,” in Bakteriologie und Moderne: Studien zur Biopolitik des Unsichtbaren, 1870-1920, ed. Philipp Sarasin et al. (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Wissenschaft, 2006), 239–81. 

“‘Typhoid Mary’ Strikes Again: The Social and the Scientific in the Making of Modern Public Health,” Isis 86 (1995), 268–77. JSTOR.

“Bactériologie” in Dictionnaire de la pensée médicale, ed. Dominique Lecourt (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2004), 147–53.

“Bacteriology and Microbiology” in The Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science, ed. John Heilbron (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 75–77. Publisher.

Review of Peter Baldwin, Contagion and the State in Europe, 1830-1930 (Cambridge University Press), in Journal of Modern History 76 (2004), 940–43. JSTOR.

Supervision

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