Paper Technologies, Digital Technologies: Working with Early Modern Medical Records
The Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities
Edinburgh University Press
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Kassell, L. (2016). Paper Technologies, Digital Technologies: Working with Early Modern Medical Records. Edinburgh University Press, The Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities. https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/252514
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Edinburgh University Press via https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-the-edinburgh-companion-to-the-critical-medical-humanities.html
This chapter is about what happens when historians use digital technologies to understand paper technologies. It is prompted by my work on one of the largest surviving sets of medical records in history, the casebooks of two early modern English astrologers. While the medical encounter has become a defining moment in medical humanities, historians of medicine have a longer tradition of using casebooks, observations and other forms of medical records to write histories that foreground the patient. These documents were produced through conventions of observing, remembering, recording and retaining records of cases. They are rich in quantitative data and qualitative description, in data and voice, and digital analysis allows us to navigate and analyze them, especially through visualization techniques. Yet, I argue, just as what constitutes a medical record needs to be historically, critically assessed, so we need to reflect on what it means to render these paper documents into a digital form.
medical records, casebooks, patients, medical encounter, digital humanities, data visualization
Work towards this chapter was supported by the Wellcome Trust through a Programme Grant for the Casebooks Project  and a Strategic Award on Generation to Reproduction .
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