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Of Cholera and Commas: Science, Politics, and the Germ Theory Debates in Late Nineteenth-Century Britain

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dc.contributor.advisor Hayton, Darin
dc.contributor.advisor Smith, Paul Jacov McNeal, Andrew 2010-08-02T12:53:03Z 2010-08-02T12:53:03Z 2010
dc.description.abstract The Egyptian cholera epidemic of 1883-4 re-invigorated debates within the British and international medical communities over the cause and transmission of the disease. Despite four major outbreaks of epidemic cholera in Britain alone prior to the Egyptian epidemic, the cause and treatment of cholera remained largely an enigma to British physicians. Dr. Robert Koch's proposal of a germ theory, or micro-organism, cause of cholera, following his laboratory investigations of cholera in Egypt and India, provided new insight into the nature of the disease. Instead of a warm reception for his contributions to science, however, Koch's work encountered skepticism among many of Britain's leading physicians. This thesis uses articles published in Nature and The British Medical Journal during the 1883-4 epidemic as a lens through which to study the interplay between science and politics in the development and reception of germ theory in late nineteenth-century Britain. It examines the roots of a distinct British medical style in the nineteenth century and how the practice of medicine led to a reading of the disease that implicated environmental conditions in the cause and spread of cholera. Furthermore, the paper explores the political implications of Koch's germ theory and the antagonism this theory created to the empire's established commercial and public health policies. Finally, it illuminates the coincidence of medical and political objectives that informed the official British reaction to Koch's work. en
dc.language.iso en_US en
dc.subject.lcsh Cholera -- Great Britain -- History -- 19th century
dc.subject.lcsh Spontaneous generation -- History -- 19th century
dc.subject.lcsh Cholera -- Egypt -- History -- 19th century
dc.subject.lcsh Cholera -- Epidemiology -- History -- 19th century
dc.subject.lcsh Medicine -- Great Britain -- History -- 19th century
dc.title Of Cholera and Commas: Science, Politics, and the Germ Theory Debates in Late Nineteenth-Century Britain en
dc.type Thesis (B.A.) en
dc.rights.access Haverford users only

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