"The Medical Origins of Experimental Science? Professors, Students, and the Cultivation of Experiment at Universities in Padua and Leiden"
Friday, September 14, 2018 - 3:35pm
Evan Ragland
Department of History
University of Notre Dame

Early modern universities tend to be left out when historians construct histories of the rise of experiment and experimentalism, especially with the exciting new scientific societies demanding attention. Yet from the early sixteenth century through the seventeenth, university medical schools fostered cultures of making trials and experiments among professors and students, making tests across anatomy, natural history, drug-making, chymistry, and clinical practice. Often provoked by controversies over ancient and contemporary texts, professors and students increasingly relied on personal and community experience to engage and resolve disputes. Especially in the seventeenth century, students became important authors and agents in the development of experimentalist culture. The education of hundreds of students annually in these university settings should help us to explain the frequent preponderance or majority of physicians as active members of seventeenth-century scientific societies. Moreover, attending to the history of experiment in medical schools presents challenges to persistent narratives, such as the Paris 'birth' of anatomical-clinical correlation or the polite nature of the experimentalist way of life.