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Dirt, Disease and the Public's Health, 1800-1914 - 20 credits (HST651)

The period 1800 to 1914 is often considered one in which the public’s health dramatic improved as the state and medicine intervened to combat the excesses of urbanisations and industrialisation. The traditional chronology points to the emergence of epidemic disease and the notion of a medical police, to a sanitarian concept and state intervention in the mid-nineteenth century, and then a reorientation of public health around the individual as new concepts of disease and the role of state emerged. The course examines this chronology and the development of public health in Britain to look at the rhetoric of the public health movement, its popularity and local realities. It challenges accepted notions about public health to assess the historiography, in particular the opposing schools represented by McKeown and Szreter. Images and concerns about urban growth and the impact of urbanisation and industrialisation on disease are discussed, along with the how changing medical ideas and conceptions of disease shaped action. In doing so, the course looks at continuities and discontinuities to look at the role of the state at a local and national level, and at how public health was professionalised.