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Feverish Bodies, Enlightened MindsScience and the Yellow Fever Controversy in the Early American Republic$
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Thomas Apel

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780804797405

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804797405.001.0001

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“A New Era in the Science of Medicine”?

(p.144) Conclusion
Feverish Bodies, Enlightened Minds

Thomas A. Apel

Stanford University Press

The Conclusion suggests that the yellow fever debate revealed the untenability of scientific inquiry based on the common-sense model, which could not sustain productive debate. It also contends that the yellow fever years help explain the trajectory of American science and medicine in the nineteenth century, when natural inquiry began to move out of the public sphere and into professional organizations and institutions of “experts.” In medicine, this tendency crystallized in the rise of hospitals and autopsy, and in the search for disease in the tissues of the body. The debate between localists and contagionists reappeared in American South in response to its own yellow fever epidemics and in the United States’ industrial cities in response to cholera, but these investigators would be inclined to look for answers in the bodies and corpses of their patients, as much as in ships and putrid effluvia.

Keywords:   yellow fever epidemics, American science and medicine, Enlightenment, professionalization, scientific disciplines, cholera, disease

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