Publication

Sweat: Materiality and Fluidity of Perspiration in in Eighteenth-Century Medicine

Verwaal, R., 19-Jun-2015.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic

How can a bodily excretion like sweat, often accompanied with a stench or associated with anxiety and distress, enrich our view of the history of science? This paper argues that following the fluid and flow of sweat has in fact particular advantages, because it provides a unique perspective by incorporating medical and chemical history. I will argue that to understand the physiology and pathology of perspiration, early modern physicians increasingly subjected the bodily excretion of sweat to chemical examination. Seventeenth-century experimenters had attempted to measure the amount of moisture a person sweats and anatomists had studied the structure of the sweat gland. Yet eighteenth-century physicians such as Jerome Gaub increasingly applied chemical experiments to understand sweat. These practices revealed the fluid’s chemical properties and its relation to other bodily excreta such as blood and urine. Also the way how various noxious weather conditions–hot, cold, dry, moist–could affect the pores and perspiration were discussed in chemical terms. In sum, the focus on the materiality and fluidity of sweat provides a unique perspective on the porous boundaries of the body and early modern fields of medical and chemical knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 19-Jun-2015
EventGewina 6th Gewina Woudschoten conference of the History of Science in the Low Countries - Woudschoten, Zeist, Netherlands
Duration: 19-Jun-201520-Jun-2015

Conference

ConferenceGewina 6th Gewina Woudschoten conference of the History of Science in the Low Countries
CountryNetherlands
CityZeist
Period19/06/201520/06/2015

Event

Gewina 6th Gewina Woudschoten conference of the History of Science in the Low Countries

19/06/201520/06/2015

Zeist, Netherlands

Event: Conference

    Keywords

  • sweat

ID: 26924635