Between Trust and Controversy

Between Trust
and Controversy

The Doctor-Patient Relationship
in the Renaissance

Michael Stolberg

13 September 2022 – 5 PM (CEST)

In his recent book Learned Physicians and Everyday Medicine in the Renaissance, Michael Stolberg has offered a wide-ranging account of the training, self-fashioning, and medical practice of “ordinary” learned physicians in the sixteenth century, especially in the German-speaking territories.

In this lecture, he will focus on a major aspect of his book, namely the interactions between physicians and their patients.

Drawing on physicians’ personal notebooks, practice journals, and similar sources this lecture will reconstruct the multifaceted lived reality of this relationship detailing, in particular, the different types and degrees of intensity of their interaction, from one-off consultations in the physician’s house or just based on uroscopy to long-term relationships with whole families.

This lecture will also discuss the issue of fees and fair payment and the widespread belief of patients and their relatives that the physician’s honorarium should depend on the success of his cure, all the while outlining the challenges and dangers to their reputation that physicians faced when they were treating incurable and terminal patients.

A special emphasis will also be laid on the complex balance of power in the relationship between patients and families on the one hand and learned physicians on the other, which forced physicians, among others, to offer detailed and comprehensible explanations of their diagnosis and treatment, making the bedside a major site for the dissemination of learned medical knowledge.

About the Speaker ...

Michael Stolberg is chair of History of Medicine at the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg.
Originally trained as a physician, he received a PhD in history and philosophy at the University of Munich in 1994. From 1995, he held fellowships in Venice, Cambridge, and Munich. Since 2004 he has been chair of the history of medicine at the University of Würzburg, Germany. He has published widely on learned medical theory and practice, the patient experience, and body history in early modern Europe. Amongst his recent books it is worth mentioning Uroscopy in Early Modern Europe (2016), Gelehrte Medizin und ärztlicher Alltag in der Renaissance (2020) recently translated into English as Learned Physicians and Everyday Medical Practice in the Renaissance (2021). Forthcoming this year is also the much-awaited Gabrielle Falloppia, 1522/23-1562: The Life and Work of a Renaissance Anatomist (Routledge, 2022)
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