Help with Renaissance Medicine History Coursework (A2/A Level) Watch

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Don Quixote
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My essay title is: How far did the invention of the priting press advance medicine in the Renaissance.

My basic outline is:

1. Increased acces of educated classes to books and educational studies - BUT only educated classes, books limited to popular ones like Galen, and Hippocrates, Aristotle. A focus on anatomy, due to humanism, neglect of other fields such as cause and cure of illness etc.

2. Publishing of new breakthroughs made available, increased awareness of discoveries (stated only Vesalius, Pare and Harvey - need more?) - BUT only anatomical, little application in an era of plague and poor public health, irrelevant really. Resistance to these discoveries too, due to the popularisation of ancient works. Promoted anatomy over cause and cure of illness (4 Humours believed to be corrrect)

3. Other factors - good economy (aided by printing), individuals' charisma, drive etc and spread of universities, respect for good doctors. BUT hospitals still under-developed, surgery tools basic, ill-suited to diseases with no anatomical fix. University studies still focused on anatomy and human nature, workings of the body, again neglected more worthwhile causes (illness, problems birthing). NB: Church stated supernatural ie intangible cause of illness, and was very influential, also a factor.

CONCLUSION: Advancement on medicine debatable, since there are many aspects, depends what you see as most important. However, it did raise the status of medicine and the profession to a respected and high level which remained and encouraged future medical discoveries, albeit helped by other factors, which are interedependent. Still, printing is the basis for study and the spread of knowledge, therefore most important

*I've written the essay, to this plan, but without quotes, it contains 1544 words.

I have questions:

1. How many sources/books should I use?
2. If I fleshed this out with quotes to support my statements and then applied the analysis (the BUT's) to those, would I have a good essay.
3. Do I have everything I need too

Thanks for reading.
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tommyboy
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Sounds really excellent, I have to say. It's very good that you point to the limits of print in advancing scientific knowledge (accessibility of books, etc.), even though I would argue that the change in the status of medical practitioners only really occurred in the 1860s. Expand on the fact that print is not (!!!) always fixed, ie. in early modern printing you get a lot of printing mistakes (and as books were very costly, publishers tried to sell these copies anyway). Also, it is important to take into account the reception of print (ie. how and in what context did people read these books. Does the fact that it was written down in a book really mean that people believed it and that people understood it the way they were supposed to be.) You've already touched on this quite well with your points on the popularisation of ancient works (popular = less risky for publishers = publishers prefer these books rather than new ones). As I said, this looks really good - I'm very impressed. You're being very analytical, which is excellent.

Book-wise: use as many sources as you can, esp you might want to have a look at Elizabeth Eisenstein's work (although I don't necessarily agree with her work, and neither will you probably), specifically a book called "The Printing Press as an Agent of Change".
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Don Quixote
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Thanks, my main problem is finding good books, and I was unsure about whether this could be argued, the examples I've seen at college have been ones that reached a completely different answer to what they state in the question, mine's just an analysis. I've got two books by Roy Porter (one is the Cambridge illustrated history, the other is one by him alone) and the other is the Hamlyn history of medicine. Roy Porter dominated the library las time I was in and I had to return the other books (2 others, another 1 by Roy Porter)

*The books I have are on the history of medicine, as opposed to being specific to the Renaissance, or printing, I think that's why I can't find good quotes (I changed my essay too)

Should I use a lot of quotes, even if they say the same thing, to show each point? This is where I'm stuck, I just feel 'why should I repeat myself?' My first idea was how did religion affect medicine in the Middle Ages, but that was a bit complex and the dates I had to refer to were beyond the timeframe of the coursework (post 768ad I think.)

Thanks again, and I'll take your points on board. Just a little clarification on use of quotes would be great.
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tommyboy
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Roy Porter is great. Also James Secord and Adrian Johns have written on this.
Re use of quotes: I'd say use as many different opinions as you can and try to synthesize them. This doesn't necessarily mean "quoting" all of them with proper quotations. Just quickly insert "as Roy Porter has pointed out", "according to Adrian Johns" or something like that in your own sentence. Maybe try to point out issues on which different historians differ - is there a historiographical debate? (For instance, Eisenstein has been criticized for being a "technological determinists" and for not taking into account the readership and cultural and economic forces of the book trades.) Don't worry, it sounds as if you should be fine.
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Don Quixote
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That's why I'm unsure though, there's no debatable material in any of the books I've seen, just a little statement like 'perhaps the most powerful force in advancing medicine was the printing press', and then nothing else, they just go onto the discoveries. I'll have to go to the library this weekend or something. Thanks again.
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tommyboy
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I recently wrote a similar essay (more on the 18th and 19th centuries though!) If you want I can e-mail you my bibliography (might give you some ideas); it might be a bit too specialized though, as we're talking about final-year university level here.
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Don Quixote
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You seem to know what I need though, so yeah, I'd like that. My email is [email protected] How specialised are they though? I think I need books on either printing and/or the Renaissance. Thanks. Its just so hard to find sources...Can you use the internet?
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tommyboy
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ok, I've sent you an e-mail. I also tried to find a reading list on the history of medicine, but as they are not running the course this year, it's not available.
You'll be absolutely fine.
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