Epistemic Genre and Practices in Psychiatry (1870-1920)

Writing the Textbook Case: Epistemic Genre and Practices in Psychiatry (1870-1920)

Yvonne Wübben

Up to the present day, clinical teaching is by far not the most important means of transmitting psychiatric knowledge. In different stages of professional training knowledge is mainly conveyed and shaped through textbooks. Students and teachers read and reread books in order to gain or dispute insights within a vast and complex medical field. This project investigates the culture of the psychiatric textbook as a crucial aspect in the formation of the discipline. It reconstructs the writing, reading and teaching practices by focussing on the rhetoric of the book, its strategies of visualization, narrations and typographic codes. Particular emphasis is on the late 19th and early 20th century, when psychiatry entered into its phase of professionalization. How did textbooks contribute to this process? And how – if at all – did they lead to the formation of “a collective thought style”, as Ludwik Fleck suggested?

Funding Institutions

Ruhr-Universität Bochum