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Modern History of the Stomach - Ian Mill

"A history of the stomach really does work as a site for understanding how we’ve come to think about minds, bodies and modernity".

Steven Shapin, London Review of Books, June 2011. 

"The stomach, it is clear, was territory to be fought for. This conclusion, carefully stated, is generally persuasive, and the book is well and confidently written".

Christopher Hamlin, American Historical Review, December 2012. 

"A Modern History of the Stomach makes an exemplary contribution to the historical analysis of disease. Miller joins an ongoing effort to use the history of disease to knit together and illuminate diverse aspects of social, environmental, and scientific history".

Christopher Crenner, Isis, September 2012 

"Though our understanding of the mechanics of the gut-brain connection is new, our fascination with it is most definitely not. The Victorians, in particular, were “obsessed” by the stomach and its discontents, as the historian Ian Miller notes in his book “A Modern History of the Stomach.” The result was an outpouring of popular and medical literature, which advocated a surprisingly modern sense of gastric happiness as the key to both physical and mental well-being. Miller argues that this fixation was a response not only to contemporary medical thought but also to the seismic shift in diet that was taking place in the United Kingdom at the time—the first steps toward today’s industrialized food system".

Nicola Twilley, New Yorker, January 2015.

"Though a range of historians and cultural critics have been interested in the stomach, diet, and digestion, tracing its various facets from the ancient to the modern world, Ian Miller’s focus on gastric illness offers a new intervention. Highlighting the specific turning points of medical construction in diagnosis and treatment over a broad period, from the nineteenth century to the Second World War, the book is organized into coherent periods of change...A very solid contribution to the history of medicine and surgery, as well as military medicine, and gives us much to think about regarding both soldiers' experiences and psychosomatic disorders."

Ana Carden-Coyne, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Winter 2015

The health of the stomach has always been the subject of intense medical and popular interest. Yet despite this it is an area of medical, social and cultural history that has previously been neglected as a topic of analytical enquiry. A Modern History of the Stomach is the first exploration of the complex relationship between the abdomen and British society between 1800 and 1950. It traces the development of the management of gastric conditions by various, often competing, members of the medical profession, detailing conflict between the ideas and values of surgeons, physicians, psychologists and gastroenterologists. Not simply a history of medicine, the work uses material drawn from both the medical profession and popular culture to explain why the myriad experiences of the stomach and its illnesses have regularly occupied prominent positions in British society and cultural thought. Miller demonstrates how the framework of ideas and concepts established in medicine related to gastric illness often reflected wider social issues including industrialization and the impact of wartime anxiety upon the inner body.

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