Book ID: CBB109871340

Morbid Undercurrents: Medical Subcultures in Postrevolutionary France (2021)


Quinlan, Sean M. (Author)

Cornell University Press

Publication Date: 2021
Physical Details: 336
Language: English

In Morbid Undercurrents, Sean M. Quinlan follows how medical ideas, stemming from the so-called birth of the clinic, zigzagged across the intellectual landscape of the French Revolution and its aftermath. It was a remarkable "hotspot" in the historical timeline, when doctors and scientists pioneered a staggering number of fields—from forensic investigation to evolutionary biology—and their innovations captivated the public imagination. During the 1790s and beyond, medicine left the somber halls of universities, hospitals, and learned societies and became profoundly politicized, inspiring a whole panoply of different—often bizarre and shocking—subcultures. Quinlan reconstructs the ethos of the time and its labyrinthine underworld, traversing the intersection between medicine and pornography in the works of the Marquis de Sade, efforts to create a "natural history of women," the proliferation of sex manuals and books on family hygiene, anatomical projects to sculpt antique bodies, the rage for physiognomic self-help books that taught readers to identify social and political "types" in post-revolutionary Paris, the use of physiological medicine as a literary genre, and the "mesmerist renaissance" with its charged debates over animal magnetism and somnambulism. In creating this reconstruction, Quinlan argues that the place and authority of medicine evolved, at least in part, out of an attempt to redress the acute sense of dislocation produced by the Revolution. Morbid Undercurrents exposes how medicine then became a subversive, radical, and ideologically charged force in French society.

Reviewed By

Review Alison Downham Moore (2022) Review of "Morbid Undercurrents: Medical Subcultures in Postrevolutionary France". Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences (pp. 661-662). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Silvano, Giovanni
Jennings, Eric Thomas
Adkins, Gregory Matthew
Chappey, Jean-Luc
Warman, Caroline
Quinlan, Sean M.
Social History of Medicine
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Journal of the History of Sexuality
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
Intellectual History Review
French Historical Studies
Franco Angeli
Comité des Travaux Historiques et Scientifiques
University of Delaware Press
Cambridge University Press
French Revolution of 1789
Sexual behavior
Professions and professionalization
Medicine and politics
Peiresc, Nicolas Claude Fabri de
Lamarck, Jean Baptiste Antoine Pierre de Monet de
Mantegazza, Paolo
Flaubert, Achille-Cléophas (1784-1846)
Time Periods
19th century
18th century
17th century
20th century
15th century
Paris (France)
Guadeloupe (Caribbean)
Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Académie Royale des Sciences (France)
Société d'Histoire Naturelle
Círculo Médico Argentino

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