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Infectious diseases in historical perspective: French pox versus venereal syphilis

Arrizabalaga, Jon

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URN: urn:nbn:de:hebis:26-opus-161746

Freie Schlagwörter (Englisch): French pox , venereal syphilis , human treponematoses , retrospective diagnosis , Giro-lamo Fracastoro
Universität Justus-Liebig-Universität GieĂźen
Institut: International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture
Fachgebiet: GieĂźener Graduiertenzentrum Kulturwissenschaften
DDC-Sachgruppe: Sozialwissenschaften, Soziologie
Dokumentart: Aufsatz
Zeitschrift, Serie: On_Culture : the Open Journal for the Study of Culture ; 11
ISBN / ISSN: 2856008-5
Sprache: Englisch
Erstellungsjahr: 2021
Publikationsdatum: 30.07.2021
Kurzfassung auf Englisch: Medical historiography has tended to almost automatically identify the disease that entered European medical and lay writings at the end of the 15th century as morbus gallicus with the present-day condition known as “venereal syphilis.” This identifica-tion, which goes back to the invention, in 1530, of the term syphilis as a synonym for morbus gallicus by Girolamo Fracastoro, has been retained by many 19th- and 20th-century medical historians, and there are many still today who, in looking at past med-ical and lay descriptions of that condition, have systematically practiced retrospective diagnosis of syphilis. In this work, I will claim that identifying today’s “venereal syph-ilis” with the morbus gallicus of the past is problematic because these labels involve diseases related to radically different medical frameworks — namely, the Hippocratic Galenic humoral paradigm and the bacteriological one — that are incommensurable with each other. Subsequently, I claim that, because of the lack of use of the term syphilis until the 19th century, Fracastoro cannot be considered but a historiographic artifact in the history of “venereal syphilis.”
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