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Manières d’écrire. Comment savent les médecins, 1550-1950

Contrats doctoraux et post-doctoraux, Berlin

mardi 28 février 2012, par Antoine Roullet

Observation in the clinic, testing in the laboratory, curve-tracing machines : we may think we know how physicians know. We don’t. That is because we have, until recently, ignored the primary medium in which medical knowledge occurs, namely, writing and its organisation and reorganisation on paper. Written patient records are almost as old as medicine itself and still central to its practice. Remarkably unexamined is how these have generated knowledge. The project aims to address a question of interest for understanding science, technology and medicine in the broadest sense : How are generalizations drawn from particulars ? Key techniques appear to be those of mastering on paper. These are shared across clinical, natural historical, pedagogical, forensic, accounting, administrative and other activity. To learn how paper technology works and how this has shaped knowledge over time, to show how human beings know and deal with the physical world through operations of pen and paper : the project aims to contribute to this wider goal through its focus on medicine.

Applications are invited for

2 postdoctoral positions (E13) and

2 doctoral positions (65% E13)

to be held for up to five years from 1 October 2012 at the Institute for the History of Medicine, Charité Berlin, for the research project “Ways of Writing : How Physicians Know, 1550-1950” funded by the European Research Council.

Successful applicants will join Volker Hess, Andrew Mendelsohn, and Ruth Schilling to complete a seven-person research group by focusing on one of the following areas :

- Physici and Protophysici. Physicians in administration in early modern northern Italy and the Spanish court. Writing practices at intersections of government, university, and natural history. Languages : Latin, Italian and/or Spanish required.

- Republic of letters, medicine in the 17th and 18th centuries. Natural historical practices at work in medical practice and the learned world. Languages : German, French, and English required ; Latin preferred.

- Birth of the clinic revisited. Knowledge practices from bedside to handbook at Montpellier, Leiden, Edinburgh, Vienna, 1700-1800. Languages : Latin, English, and French required ; reading knowledge of Dutch preferred.

- The Laboratory in the Clinic, 1850-1950. Role of modern experimental sciences in observation and understanding of disease(s). Languages : English and German required.

- Constructing clinical cases, 1900-1950. Medical knowing from clinical recording to scientific publication. Languages : English and German required. Experience in historical research on patient records preferred.
Applicants should have a strong academic track record and research potential in history or history of science and/or medicine as well as specific knowledge and skills needed to work on one of the research areas listed above.

Teamwork ability, readiness for cooperative research, and openness to multiple disciplinary approaches are essential.

Project members will communicate in English and German.

Applicants with at least a listening knowledge of German will be at an advantage.

Project members will have the opportunity to gain academic qualifications – PhD or Habilitation – through their work on the project.

Preference will be given to equally qualified female applicants.

Enquiries :

Volker Hess volker.hess [at] or
Andrew Mendelsohn a.mendelsohn [at]

To apply, please send full CV, sample of written work, and two-page proposal (in English or German) for research in one of the areas listed above by 25 March 2012 to :

Ms. Stefanie Voth, Sekretariat
electronically stefanie.voth [at], or by post
Institut für Geschichte der Medizin
Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Ziegelstraße 10
10117 Berlin

Applicants will be interviewed in the week of 16 April 2012, with decisions announced the following week.

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