Gianna Pomata (Johns Hopkins University) – "The Medical Case Across Cultures: Comparing the European Observatio and the Chinese Yi' an"

April 15, 2013

We are very happy to announce that on Monday April 15th, SC 469, 5-7 pm, we will have a special event, co-sponsored by the Science Religion and Culture Program at the Divinity School and the History of Medicine Working Group: Gianna Pomata, Professor at the Institute of the History of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University will present her current work in a talk titled “The Medical Case Across Cultures: Comparing the European Observatio and the Chinese Yi' an

Gianna Pomata was educated and trained in Italy, but for the last twenty-five years she divided her professional life as a historian between Europe and the United States. Before joining Johns Hopkins University in 2007, she taught for many years at the Universities of Bologna and Minnesota. Her research interests include early modern European social and cultural history, with a main focus on the history of medicine. Most recently, she has worked on the history of scientific observation, with particular attention to medical case narratives and their role in the rise of scientific empiricism. She has written on the early modern genre of historia and its significance in medicine and anatomy. She has also studied concepts and rules of evidence as they developed at the intersection of early modern medicine and religion (the role of physicians in assessing miraculous evidence in canonization proceedings). She has contributed to the history of the healer/patient relationship by reconstructing the long-forgotten custom of contractual agreements between practitioners and patients.

Professor Pomata has also a strong interest in women’s history, gender history, and the history of the body, to which she has contributed with various essays on women healers and women patients, the history of menstruation and lactation, concepts of sexual difference in early modern medicine, the cult of holy bodies and relics.
Her books include: Contracting a Cure: Patients, Healers, and the Law in Early Modern Bologna (Baltimore, 1998);  The Faces of Nature in Enlightenment Europe ( Berlin, 2003, co-edited with Lorraine Daston); Historia: Empiricism and Erudition in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, Mass., 2005, co-edited with Nancy G. Siraisi); Oliva Sabuco: The True Medicine (Toronto, 2010). 
She is currently at work on a book project, A Science of Individuals: the Case History in Pre-Modern European Medicine. She studies the development of the medical case history in a long-term perspective by tracing its antecedents in ancient Greek, medieval European and medieval Arabic medicine. In a cross-cultural perspective, she compares the early-modern European collections of case narratives with the case collections that developed in early modern Chinese medicine. This project combines her long-standing engagement with the history of the doctor/patient relationship with a more recent interest in individualized medicine.