Human Body

Portrait of an African Nobleman, Jan Mostaert. Netherlands, c. 1525. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

This section of the course explores understandings of the human body in the past.  We will examine the ways in which pre-modern people (primarily but not exclusively Europeans) explained health and disease, the techniques of healing they practiced, their responses to epidemic diseases, and their explorations of human anatomy.  We will also examine the ways in which differences between peoples were understood and constructed, including the differences between men and women, Jews and Christians, Europeans and Africans, and Europeans and the indigenous peoples of the “New World.”

Greek and Roman Medicine

Islamic Medicine

Medieval and Renaissance European Medicine


Gender and Generation

Constructing Racial Differences

Encountering Indigenous Peoples


Ancient and Medieval Anatomy

Renaissance Anatomy

William Harvey

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