My dissertation Fluid Matters argues that at the turn of the eighteenth century new research methods and instruments crucially changed the perception of bodily fluids, and that this contributed to a new system of medicine. I defended my dissertation in June 2018 in Groningen. Read here a summary of its main arguments per chapter. Enjoy!
Chapter Two of my dissertation, ‘The Nature of Blood’, analyses the changing perceptions of blood in the Dutch Republic, both by Boerhaave’s disciplines and by his rivals.
Chapter Three, ‘Piss Prophets and Urine Matters’, shows that physicians repurposed chemistry from the general diagnostic tool of uroscopy to serve the specialised, pathological study of urinary diseases.
Chapter 4, ‘Crying over Spilt Milk’, reveals that the renewed interest in and reconsideration of the fluids also occurred outside academia, in particular the household.
Chapter 5, ‘Sweat it Out’, focusses on the concept of “insensible perspiration” and the sudorific drug of sal ammoniac.
Chapter 6, ‘Semen in Flux’, demonstrates the development of eighteenth-century physicians’ notions of disease. It argues that investigations relating to semen helped formalise pathology as a separate discipline.