"Natural", "Normal": Discourse and Practice at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, and Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, 1880-1920


  • Rosemary Wall Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine Oxford




discourse, bacteriology, experimental physiology, laboratory, hospital, St. Bartholomew's Hospital London, Addenbrooke's Hospital Cambridge, England, Samuel Gee


Elite physicians have been portrayed as opposed to the use of laboratory science in the hospital. In this paper John Harley WARNER's research regarding use of the terms "natural" and "normal" in case notes in the U.S., as representative of the growing influence of laboratory science in the hospital, is compared to use of these words at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, and Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, England. Discourse at Bart's appears to support the view of elite opposition to the laboratory. However, the case notes reveal that the bacteriological laboratory was used at least as often as at Addenbrooke's. This apparent contradiction is investigated by examining how the words "natural" and "normal" were used, and the reception of experimental physiology at the hospitals. Samuel GEE, a physician at Bart's in the late nineteenth century, who also, at first glance, had contradictory views on the use of the laboratory in the hospital, is examined through his practice and writings in order to understand that representations of reception of laboratory science are not straightforward. Analysing changes in language over time shows that rhetoric and practice are not always aligned, and that language cannot always be seen as an indicator of the latter. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0701174


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Author Biography

Rosemary Wall, Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine Oxford

Rosemary WALL undertook this research for part of a chapter in the forthcoming doctoral thesis, "Using bacteriology in the hospital and in society: England, 1880-1939", Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of London from 2003-2006. From October 2006 she began a two-year AHRC post-doctoral research position at the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, University of Oxford, researching the history of medicine in late colonial Kenya, building on research already completed for her MSc dissertation at Imperial College.




How to Cite

Wall, R. (2007). "Natural", "Normal": Discourse and Practice at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, and Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, 1880-1920. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-8.1.208



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