Aetiology and Etymology: Concepts, Bodies, Media

  • Monika Pietrzak-Franger
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine book series (PLSM)


Chapter 2 lays out the historical and methodological background of this study. Firstly, it offers an overview of syphilis concepts and sketches the basic tenets of the expert knowledge about syphilis at the fin de siècle. Secondly, against the background of recent interdisciplinary debates about illness, it argues for the necessity of discussing syphilis concepts with reference to the materiality of the disease, its media evocations and the concomitant rhetorics. Referencing Jonathan Hutchinson’s collection of didactic materials on syphilis, the third subchapter exemplifies the richness of media depictions of the disease and advocates expanding the study of syphilis beyond the already well-trodden textual landscape. It makes evident the various media mechanisms that participated in the production and dissemination of knowledge about the disease. Overall, then, it shows that attending to these processes reveals complex mechanisms of knowledge production and circulation along with the invisibility/visibility dialectics that lies at their core.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Monika Pietrzak-Franger
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Anglistik und AmerikanistikUniversität HamburgHamburgGermany

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