Book Review: The Butchering Art

twitterlogoBRReview by Tom Bragg.

Both the title and subtitle of Lindsey Fitzharris’s popular medical history—The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine—hint at the sensationalism, the often lurid details with which the author baits the hook of her narrative. The creator of popular websites and a Youtube series about medical and surgical subjects, Fitzharris is clearly at home with such material, and weaves shudder-inducing factoids and interesting digressions freely throughout the book’s general story, that of Lister’s career, his developing interest in microscopy, his suspicions about the miasma “bad air” theory of disease, and his eventual role as the founder of antiseptic medicine.


In its essentials, this account might take up half as much space as the (already slim) book’s 230-odd pages, while a more personal and introspective account might occupy many more. Joseph Lister lived to a ripe old age—indeed, his life straddles the entire Victorian Era—and his accomplishments are legion and impressive. According to the book’s blurb, Fitzharris’s aim has been to “dramatically {reconstruct] Lister’s career path,” and thus to celebrate the surgeon and innovator by contrasting his achievements with the “grisly” situations and contexts in which he worked. Continue reading “Book Review: The Butchering Art”

Launching Dósis: medical humanities + social justice

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In the United States today, we face a crisis of health. This crisis manifests in many, many ways—from the opioid crisis and infant mortality to issues of access and deep divides about what health means, for whom, and when. Meanwhile, we watch an unfolding narrative of anger from both sides of the political aisles, and destructive arguments over issues which should be unifying, for instance, that hatred and bullying are bad, and inclusiveness and tolerance are good. Every one of us, despite our backgrounds and contexts, trudge into the last third of 2017 fatigued and frustrated. Each of us looks to a future filled with new dangers to the health of our bodies and also of our minds. We must ask ourselves: what can we do? But also: how much can I do, and remain healthy? How, that is, do we fight this present darkness.

Medicine, Aryballos, @LouvreThe ancient Greek word we today translate as “dose” (as in Daily Dose) has a more subtle and unexpected nuance. Transliterated from δόσις, it means both “a giving” and “the portion prescribed.” But it carried with it the intention of a chain reaction of giving—dósis is the motivated giving and responding that creates reciprocity. In our new mission as an online magazine, Dósis seeks to bring this reciprocity to bear on medical humanities and social justice. We cannot address every wrong as individuals, but together, working responsively and in dialogue, we can work for change.

Medical humanities as a field has long struggled to define itself, to decide not only what it is but what it’s for. Dósis will be mission driven: medical humanities + social justice. We are dedicating our platform to exploring the intersection of health, humanities, and social justice  . When in the dark, it is our responsibility bring the light, to shine brightly ourselves, and to honor the light in others. We must eschew hatred, but not by being hateful. We must resist transforming anger into aggression against the vulnerable. We do not need to find common ground with those who oppose us, but we do need to create solid ground beneath ourselves, a platform for joining our voices and make ourselves heard. Each issue, and each article and commentary within it, serves as a single portion, a dose given and, in the giving, received.

To your health.


Book Review: Stand Your Ground

twitterlogoBRReview by Julia Brown.

Though an avid reader, I typically stray away from one genre: histories. In the case of Stand Your Ground: A History of America’s Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense (Beacon Press, 2017) by Caroline E. Light, I am glad I broke my trend. Stand Your Ground is a page-turning account of the cultural and judicial history of self-defense and armed citizen laws in America, written at a time when understanding how the last 200 years shaped these laws is more important than ever.  In her second book, Continue reading “Book Review: Stand Your Ground”