The Germ of an Idea: Contagionism, Religion, and Society in Britain, 1660-1730

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9781137575272: The Germ of an Idea: Contagionism, Religion, and Society in Britain, 1660-1730
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“The book’s importance to historians of this era and medical historians especially is self-evident, because it occupies a lacuna in the scholarship. ... Although this book is written for scholarly audiences and densely packed, it is clear and accessible to general readers with avid interest in medical history. For Health Humanities professionals, this book underscores–with a twist–one of the primary lessons we hope to teach our medical students.” (Sandra G. Weems, MedHum Daily Dose,, June, 2016)

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Germ of an Idea shows how a belief in contagion began to spread among a group of medical reformers who had been forced by nationality and religious nonconformity to follow alternative pathways to medical education and professional status in early eighteenth century Britain. It explains how contagionism shaped their ideas about the nature and behavior of diseases such as smallpox, plague, syphilis, and consumption and how it interacted with the belief that diseases were not imbalances, but specific entities.

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