Diagnosing history

Medicine in television period drama

Edited by Katherine Byrne, Julie Anne Taddeo and James Leggott

Diagnosing history
Hardcover -
  • Price: £90.00
  • ISBN: 9781526163288
  • Publish Date: Mar 2022
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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  • Price: £90.00
  • ISBN: 9781526163271
  • Publish Date: Mar 2022
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Book Information

    • Format: Hardcover
    • ISBN: 978-1-5261-6328-8
    • Pages: 304
    • Price: £90.00
    • Published Date: March 2022


    This timely collection examines representations of medicine and medical practices in international period drama television. A preoccupation with medical plots and settings can be found across a range of important historical series, including Outlander, Poldark, The Knick, Call the Midwife, La Peste and A Place to Call Home. Such shows offer a critique of medical history while demonstrating how contemporary viewers access and understand the past. Topics covered in this collection include the innovations and horrors of surgery; the intersection of gender, class, race and medicine on the American frontier; psychiatry and the trauma of war; and the connections between past and present pandemics. Featuring original chapters on period television from the UK, the US, Spain and Australia, Diagnosing history offers an accessible, global and multidisciplinary contribution to both televisual and medical history.


    Introduction - Katherine Byrne, Julie Anne Taddeo, and James Leggott

    Part I: Early modern professions and disease
    1 Golden rats and sick empires: portraying medicine, poverty, and the bubonic plague in La Peste - José Ragas, Patricia Palma, and Guillermo González-Donoso
    2 Wellness, womanhood, and witchcraft in Outlander: televised historical portrayals of women's shifting roles in medicine - Jennifer M. Fogel and Serenity Sutherland
    3 Avoiding 'the faddlings of Dr Choake': the professionalisation of medicine in Poldark - Barbara Sadler
    4 'Infection was Mary's reward': Harlots and televising the realities of eighteenth-century English prostitution - Kristin Brig and Emily J. Clark

    Part II: Pioneers, heroes, and villains
    5 Feminist doctors and medicine women: the lady physician in the American western - Jacqueline D. Antonovich
    6 The Black doctor on the historical small screen: African American physicians in television period dramas - Kevin McQueeney
    7 When women were nurses: gender, nostalgia, and the making of historical heroines - Aeleah Soine
    8 Heroic childbirth and Call the Midwife - Katherine Byrne
    9 'Physician, heal thyself': the good doctor of When the Boat Comes In - James Leggott

    Part III: Dissecting the body
    10 'And when you touched my naked body . your fingertips running along my flesh . this was abuse, not science': Victorian medicine in Showtime's Penny Dreadful - Julie Anne Taddeo
    11 The surgical gaze in the operating theatre: early twentieth-century surgery on screen - Marie Allitt
    12 Of gods, monsters, and men: science, faith, the law, and the contested body and mind in The Frankenstein Chronicles and The Alienist - Andrea Wright

    Part IV: 'Treating' the mind
    13 Bad or mad?: Branwell Brontë, mental health, and alcoholism in Sally Wainwright's To Walk Invisible - Sarah E. Fanning and Claire O'Callaghan
    14 'After I left England, they thought I was mad. But they taught me to use it - now it's a gift': representations of mental illness in the period dramas of Stephen Knight - Dan Ward
    15 Bitter living through science: melodramatic and moral readings of gay conversion therapy in A Place to Call Home - Gordon R. Alley-Young

    Afterword - Jessica Meyer


    Katherine Byrne is Lecturer in English at Ulster University
    Julie Anne Taddeo is Research Professor of History at the University of Maryland
    James Leggott is Associate Professor of Film and Television Studies at Northumbria University

    Diagnosing history

    Edited by Katherine Byrne, Julie Anne Taddeo, James Leggott

    Hardcover £90.00 / $130.00

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