Undergraduate Course: Medicine and health in the early Middle Ages (HIST10429)
|School||School of History, Classics and Archaeology
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Not available to visiting students
|Summary||This course explores the strange and fascinating world of early medieval medicine. Although often stereotyped as an age of ignorance and superstition, the period between the fifth century and the eleventh witnessed a transformation of ancient medical ideas. Drawing on material from across Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, this course overturns those persistent stereotypes and provides a new perspective into a world of learning, religion and belief.
Ideas about health and illness are critically important in all societies, ancient and modern. Yet conventional accounts of the development of medical knowledge have typically given little place to the ideas of the early Middle Ages, often treating them instead as an era in which classical learning gave way to widespread ignorance and superstition. This course seeks to re-examine early medieval medicine on its own terms. Drawing on material from across Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, it follows the fragmentation and evolution of Roman medical knowledge between the fifth century and the eleventh. Ancient medical theories and practices were transformed as they took root in the new Christian and Muslim societies of the early medieval world.
In our seminars, we will follow that process of transformation, discovering a heady mix of science, tradition, religion and magic along the way. You will be reading some of the surviving medieval books of medicine for yourself, and exploring the world which produced them. By the end of the course, you will be in a good position to revisit those stereotypes of early medieval superstition, and decide for yourself whether this really was a medical 'Dark Age'.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| A pass in 40 credits of third level historical courses or equivalent.
Before enrolling students on this course, Personal Tutors are asked to contact the History Honours Admission Administrator to ensure that a place is available (Tel: 50 3780).
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2021/22, Not available to visiting students (SS1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 44,
Summative Assessment Hours 3,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 8,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
2 x 4,000-word essays (each worth 25%)
3-hour exam (40%)
||Students will receive written feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser during their published office hours for this course or by appointment.
||Hours & Minutes
|Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)||3:00|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- demonstrate command of the history of medicine in the early medieval world;
- read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship
- understand, evaluate and utilize a variety of primary source material
- develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilizing relevant evidence;
- demonstrate independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers.
|Cameron, M., "Anglo-Saxon Medicine" (Cambridge, 1993)|
Conrad, L. et al., "The Western Medical Tradition, 800 BC to AD 1800" (Cambridge, 1995)
Horden, P., 'What's wrong with early medieval medicine?', "Social History of Medicine" 24 (2011), 5-25
Leja, M., 'The sacred art: medicine in the Carolingian renaissance', "Viator" 47 (2016), 1-34
McKeown, J., "A Cabinet of Ancient Medical Curiosities: Strange Tales and Surprising Facts from the Healing Arts of Greece and Rome" (Oxford, 2017)
Nutton, V., "Ancient Medicine" (London, 2004)
Pormann, P., and E. Savage-Smith, "Medieval Islamic Medicine" (Edinburgh, 2007)
Wallis, F. (ed. and trans.), "Medieval Medicine: A Reader" (Toronto, 2010)
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Dr Richard Sowerby
Tel: (0131 6)50 3854
|Course secretary||Miss Lorna Berridge