Project (2008-2009)

Practices of Observation of Early Modern Physicians

Gianna Pomata's work focused on the practices of observation of early modern European physicians. Pomata examined in particular the development of the genre of medical observationes (collections of case histories), a new form of writing that emerged in the late Renaissance. The interest in case writing and case collecting, which was the primary motivation behind the publishing of the observationes, was related to the recovery of the ideas of the ancient Empiric physicians, which were part and parcel of the legacy of ancient Scepticism and newly influential in early modern Europe. During her project, Pomata completed and submitted for publication the following articles on this topic: "Sharing Cases: The Observationes in Early Modern Medicine" (accepted for publication in Early Science and Medicine, 2010); "Observation Rising: Birth of an Epistemic Genre," accepted for publication in Lorraine Daston and Elizabeth Lunbeck, eds., Histories of Scientific Observation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010); and "A Word of the Empirics: The Ancient Concept of Observation and its Recovery in Early Modern Medicine," in Annals of Science.