In “Doctors, patients, and the physical examination” James Edmonson explores what he learned in preparing an exhibition of historic diagnostic instruments from the M. Donald Blaufox Collection. The advent of the stethoscope wrought changes in how doctors interacted with patients, enhancing diagnostic precision while possibly leading to the objectification of the patient. The role of touch in the doctor-patient interaction became a subject of special interest, with insights derived from graphic images of doctors conducting physical examinations. The talk concludes with images of the stethoscope in medical portraiture, the evolving gender roles associated with the stethoscope, and emergence of children’s toy doctor kits as the stethoscope found a place in popular culture.
James M. Edmonson is chief curator emeritus of the Dittrick Medical History Center and Museum of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. A graduate of the College of Wooster, Edmonson received an M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Delaware. His doctoral thesis received the Sypherd Prize and appeared as From mécanicien to ingénieur: Technical Education and the Machine Building Industry in Nineteenth Century France. Subsequent publications include American Surgical Instruments (1997) and Dissection: Photographs of a Rite of Passage in American Medicine, 1880-1930 (co-authored with John Harley Warner, 2009), and over 70 articles in peer reviewed journals. In the museum field, Edmonson curated over thirty exhibitions on medical and surgical instruments, contraception, childbirth, and public health.
How It Works!
This is a pre-recorded lecture which lasts approximately 40mins and delivered specially for Surgeons Hall Museums online program.
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