Medicine's Moving Pictures

Medicine's Moving Pictures

Medicine, Health, and Bodies in American Film and Television

Edited by Leslie J. Reagan, Nancy Tomes, Paula A. Treichler


University of Rochester Press



Original essays by leading media scholars and historians of medicine that explore the rich history of health-related films.
This groundbreaking book argues that health and medical media, with their unique goals and production values, constitute a rich cultural and historical archive and deserve greater scholarly attention. Original essays by leading media scholars and historians of medicine demonstrate that Americans throughout the twentieth century have learned about health, disease, medicine, and the human body from movies. Heroic doctors and patients fighting dreaded diseases have thrilled and moved audiences everywhere; amid changing media formats, medicine's moving pictures continue to educate, entertain, and help us understand the body's journey through life. Perennially popular, health and medical media are also complex texts reflecting many interests and constituencies including, notably, the U.S. medical profession, which has often sought, if not always successfully, to influence content, circulation, and meaning. Medicine's Moving Pictures makes clear that health and medical media representations are "more than illustrations," shows their power to shape health perceptions, practices, and policies, and identifies their social, cultural, and historical contexts.

Contributors: Lisa Cartwright, Vanessa Northington Gamble, Rachel Gans-Boriskin, Valerie Hartouni, Susan E. Lederer, John Parascandola, Martin S. Pernick, Leslie J. Reagan, Naomi Rogers, Nancy Tomes, Paula A. Treichler, Joseph Turow

Leslie J. Reagan is an Associate Professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Nancy Tomes is a Professor at Stony Brook University; Paula A. Treichler is a Professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.


17 black and white illustrations
353 pages
9x6 in
Rochester Studies in Medical History
Paperback, 9781580463065, December 2008
Hardback, 9781580462341, November 2007
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MED039000, PER004000, PER010030
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Table of Contents

More than Illustrations: Early Twentieth-Century Health Films as Contributors to the Histories of Medicine - Martin Pernick
Celebrity Diseases - Nancy Tomes
Syphilis at the Cinema: Medicine and Morals in VD Films of the U.S. Public Health Service in World War II - John Parascandola
Medicine, Popular Culture, and the Power of Narrative: The HIV/AIDS Storyline on General Hospital - Paula Treichler
Mandy (1952): On Voice and Listening in the (Deaf): Maternal Melodrama - Lisa Cartwright
Projecting Breast Cancer: Self-Examination Films and the Making of a New Cultural Practice - Leslie Reagan
American Medicine and the Politics of Filmmaking: Sister Kenny (RKO, 1946) - Naomi Rogers
Passing or Passive: Postwar Hollywood Images of Black Physicians - Vanessa Northington Gamble
From Expert in Action to Existential Angst: A Half Century of Television Doctors - Rachel Gans-Boriskin
From Expert in Action to Existential Angst: A Half Century of Television Doctors - Joseph Turrow
Hollywood and Human Experimentation: Representing Medical Research in Popular Film - Susan Lederer
Technicolor Technoscience: Rescripting the Future - Valerie Hartouni


This collection will be indispensable to scholars. FILM & HISTORY, (Jennifer Tebbe-Grossman)

While these essays are focused as stand-alone pieces that individually make a significant contribution to our understanding of representational work in selected media forms, they also point to the need for a more comprehensive view of what still remains essentially uncharted territory in the available histories. TECHNOLOGY AND CULTURE (Julie K. Brown)

(A) collection of engaging, original essays . . . (T)hey correct a common but misleading dismissal of medicine's cinematic and televisual depictions as frivolous and inconsequential in comparison with the serious and socially important practice of medicine. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW (Kirsten Ostherr)

Medicine's Moving Pictures is a welcome contribution in exploring how visual culture has shaped and responded to the changing practice, politics, and promotion of medicine in America. . . (This book) offers a glimpse into the rich and creative scholarship that awaits American historians who venture into the relatively untapped collections of health-related films and television shows produced over a century of America's changing visual and medical culture. THE JOURNAL OF AMERICAN HISTORY (Gregg A. Mitman)

Of particular interest is the well-documented corporate and political give-and-take regarding how a sensitive medical subject will be treated. CHOICE (R.D. Arcari)

A consistently illuminating and engaging exploration of medicine's representation in film and television. In the language of Variety, it combines art and box office: a substantive and accessible contribution to cultural and media studies as well as to the history of medicine. Charles Rosenberg, Professor of the History of Science and Ernest E. Monrad Professor in the Social Sciences, Harvard University

Film and television representation of health and medicine is neglected, both as an area of historical study and as a research resource. This collection, ranging as it does from wartime public heath films about syphilis to post-war TV doctors, is therefore to be welcomed. Its interdisciplinary approach helps us begin to decode important areas of twentieth-century American cultural history. --Virginia Berridge, Professor of History, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

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