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Wednesday 18 March 2020 16.30 - 18.30
U-4 HEA05 Nineteenth-century Medical Periodicals as Spaces of Knowledge Circulation
Reuvensplaats 4, 201A
Network: Health and Environment Chair: Frank Huisman
Organizer: Joris Vandendriessche Discussant: Annika Berg
Jolien Gijbels : Divergent Views: Professional Etiquette and Scientific Exchange in Belgian Medical Journals (1840-1914)
In nineteenth-century Belgium, scientific medical journals developed into bodies of authoritative knowledge. By 1850 they appeared regularly and provided for content matter of original and scientific nature. Faced with an audience of scientifically interested doctors, this type of publishing implied an evaluation of the scientific merit of the work of ... (Show more)
In nineteenth-century Belgium, scientific medical journals developed into bodies of authoritative knowledge. By 1850 they appeared regularly and provided for content matter of original and scientific nature. Faced with an audience of scientifically interested doctors, this type of publishing implied an evaluation of the scientific merit of the work of fellow doctors who often took different approaches on medical issues. As the circulation of knowledge in different Belgian journals shows, however, divergent views mostly did not produce conflict. Part of the explanation lies in the unwritten manners of scientific debate that guided the contributions by authors, editors and reviewers.

In this paper I will research both the practices behind and the impact of scientific publishing in Belgium in the second half of the nineteenth century. Firstly, the practices of contributors are investigated by focusing on their professional etiquette. I will do this by looking at how doctors dealt with mutual differences of opinion about the proper way of informing and treating patients. Studying the ways in which physicians avoided and caused conflict will allow me to shed light on the dos and don’ts of scientific exchange. Secondly, I will look at the impact of scientific publishing on the circulation of knowledge to its reading public. This approach includes attention to the ways in which the editors, the authors and the reviewers referred to the audience and how readers themselves engaged in publishing practices. The intention is to show to what extent considerations about the target audience and actual interactions with readers influenced the dissemination of medical knowledge.

The serial sources under study comprise three important Belgian medical journals: 1) the scientific and ideologically mixed journal Bulletin de l’Académie Royale de Médecine de Belgique of the most renowned national medical society, the Belgian Academy of Medicine; 2) the Journal de Médecine, de Chirurgie et de Pharmacologie, edited by the medical academics of the free-thinking Brussels University; 3) the Journal des sciences médicales de Louvain and its successors, directed by medical professors connected to the Catholic University of Louvain. Various types of journal contributions will be analyzed, notably original medical articles, meeting reports of medical societies, readers’ correspondence and book reviews. My research into these journal sections is based on a combination of digital text mining operations and classical hermeneutical analysis. (Show less)

Valerie Leclercq : Who do we think we are? Import, circulation and moderation of non-medical ideas about the human self in Belgian medical journals (1840-1914)
In the 19th century, the emergence of the sciences of the mind – psychiatry, neurology or phrenology etc. – came along with a growing general interest from medical professionals in the functional features of human consciousness and human individuality. When Belgian physicians explored such loaded subjects, they borrowed foreign concepts, ... (Show more)
In the 19th century, the emergence of the sciences of the mind – psychiatry, neurology or phrenology etc. – came along with a growing general interest from medical professionals in the functional features of human consciousness and human individuality. When Belgian physicians explored such loaded subjects, they borrowed foreign concepts, including from non-medical disciplines such as political philosophy, theology, law and history. In this paper, I will look at some of these concepts and analyze the way these were imported and used anew by the medical contributors to three Belgian medical journals: the Bulletin de l’Académie Royale de Médecine de Belgique, the Journal des sciences médicales de Louvain and the Journal de Médecine, de Chirurgie et de Pharmacologie.
Through my analysis, I will question the self-regulatory mechanisms of medical journals as an intellectual and semi-public space, most specifically their tolerance for religious and political ideology. Indeed, in the context of the growing professionalization of 19th-century medicine, the cultivating of its image as a trustworthy and scientific community became crucial for the newly organized medical profession. This paper will examine how physicians regulated that image and negotiated between themselves the limits of their expertise by moderating ideas that might veer too far off the medical, into the ideological.
(Show less)

Joris Vandendriessche : Experimenting with Periodical Publishing. Spreading French Medicine through the Belgian Medical Press (1830-1860)
In this paper, I analyze the first generation of medical journals in Belgium. In the 1830s, shortly after the country’s independence in 1830, Belgian physicians started publishing their own periodicals, which – different from an older type of ‘learned’ transactions – only included medical articles. Along with the setting of ... (Show more)
In this paper, I analyze the first generation of medical journals in Belgium. In the 1830s, shortly after the country’s independence in 1830, Belgian physicians started publishing their own periodicals, which – different from an older type of ‘learned’ transactions – only included medical articles. Along with the setting of disciplinary boundaries came a remarkable openness to what was happening in the medical field abroad, which in the case of Belgium meant in particular looking at France. French medical articles, and even entire books, were copied in full, (partly) reduced, summarized, annotated and/or categorized anew in Belgian medical periodicals. These edited and reprinted articles – which I scrutinize in this paper – offer a look into the making of a national professional community and into its relation with the international medical public.

At the heart of these publishing experiments are views on the transnational exchange of knowledge – views that intersected with the wider cultural and geo-political relations between nations. To uncover these, I will present examples from the five medical journals published in the 1840s by the Encyclopedic Society (Société encyclographique), a major Brussels-based publishing house. The company’s desire was to massively gather and spread the French medical sciences, of which the value seemed ‘universal’, and which could therefore be valuable to the Belgian nation as it was reforming and setting up its own system of health care and medical education. Digital searches of French medical periodicals such as the Parisian Medical Gazette (Gazette médicale de Paris), however, interestingly reveal a counter discourse in which Belgium was presented as a nation of plagiarism, which lacked scientific autonomy. A treatise on bilateral copyright in 1854 between the two countries put an end to the dispute. From then on, the inclusion of – more modest – summaries on French medical articles became a standard practice. (Show less)

Kaat Wils : Hypnotism and the Transnational Circulation of Knowledge. French and Belgian Medical Journals around 1900
As medical specialization increased in the late 19th century, journals devoted to a specific subfield or medical approach proliferated. These journals most often intended to create a national community of medical specialists, but they also aimed to function as a platform for transnational exchanges and comparisons. These exchanges and comparisons, ... (Show more)
As medical specialization increased in the late 19th century, journals devoted to a specific subfield or medical approach proliferated. These journals most often intended to create a national community of medical specialists, but they also aimed to function as a platform for transnational exchanges and comparisons. These exchanges and comparisons, however, could again serve specifically national or local aims or interests. For a discipline in the making, for instance, professional or institutional successes abroad were reported upon to support national struggles. Medical case studies were presented and discussed with a view to the growth of ‘universal’ knowledge, which was said to have no borders, but in which power relations and national prestige were of course never absent.

In my paper, I will tackle these questions for the emergent field of the study of hypnosis as a medical therapy. I will focus on the circulation of knowledge between Belgium and France, and compare the Paris based Journal of Hypnotism and Physiological Psychology (Revue de l’Hypnotisme et de la Psychologie Physiologique, 1887-1910) with the Brussels based Journal for Neurology and Hypnotism (Journal de Neurologie & d’Hypnologie, 1896-1921). Both journals presented a mix of case studies, research articles, reports of the activities of learned societies and conferences, and book reviews. While both journals allowed for the circulation of knowledge between France and Belgium, knowledge transfer was asymmetric, due to divergent political contexts and national intellectual prestige. Intellectually, most Belgian doctors with an interest in hypnotism were oriented towards France and hoped for their work to be recognized by the French scholarly community. From an institutional or legal perspective, however, French doctors considered Belgium as a model which should be emulated. In 1892, after four years of public debate, Belgian parliament voted a law that conferred a quasi-monopoly to doctors for the therapeutic use of hypnotism. This debate was followed closely and also partly fought out in the French journal, by both Belgian and French doctors. (Show less)



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