About the Blogger

My name is Jillian Linster; I have a PhD in early modern literature from the University of Iowa and currently serve as an online instructor for the English department at the University of South Dakota. My dissertation project, “Books, Bodies, and the ‘Great Labor’ of Helkiah Crooke’s Mikrokosmographia” explores the story of the first comprehensive anatomy manual in English and the fundamental relationship between physical book objects and human bodies. I am currently at work on an online edition of Mikrokosmographia and a monograph that tells the biography of that book. Other research interests include censorship of the female body in early modern England and and the role of print publication in the medical profession. I first became interested in Crooke as an MA student in Dr. Darlene Farabee’s “Early Modern Perceptions” seminar at the University of South Dakota in the spring of 2010, and I have been studying his life and books since then. I can be reached at jillian [dot] linster [at] gmail [dot] com; I strongly encourage you to contact me first if you wish to cite this blog, as much of the work has been further developed and is in the process of more formal publication.

7 Comments on “About the Blogger”

  1. Kristi George says:

    Hi Jillian – my name is Kristi George and I am a PhD student at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan. My degree will be in Educational Studies and Nursing Education (I am a nurse). I’m wondering what you think about good sources for me as I became more hopeful after reading your blog. My interest lies in nursing and healing – namely, why has the “healing” art been taken away from we nurses and when? I am performing a critical discourse analysis on the political, social and environmental forces/structures that pervade the hierarchy of physician as healer vs. nurse. I am very interested in the alternative therapies as they are seen as more “passive” than allopathic medicine (just like we nurses are seen as passive in comparison to the dominator mindset of the physician). Therefore, my digging has come to take the pathway of a gendered history of alternative practices and how the alternative practices are being defined. I read Ehrenrich & English, “Witches, midwives and healers” book and Merchant’s “Death of nature” as wel as Griffin “Woman and nature.” I am reviewing nursing history and it is sad to say nurses aren’t mentioned until the Catholic church became the predominant deliverer or care to the “suffering.” I am charged now with coming up with a macro and micro question as I face my comprehensive finals and I am suffering writer’s block! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated (Love your blog!)
    Kristi George

    • Hi Kristi! It’s so nice to hear from you. I think your research focus sounds like an intriguing topic. I’m afraid I don’t know much about the history of the nursing profession as my focus so far has been mainly on English physicians of the 16th and 17th centuries, although it is clear that there were people, including women, practicing in that sort of a role in England during that time period. I do know that at least as far as the physicians’, barber-surgeons’, and apothecaries’ roles were concerned, there was fairly clear delineation about what sort of tasks belonged to which group until those lines began to be blurred in the 1600s (with efforts such as those made by Crooke). In England the presiding professional organization was the College of Physicians, which tried to control the various types of medical practice in the London area with varying degrees of success; any unlicensed person (and only men held licenses) conducting medical procedures that the College believed fell within their purview would be subject to fines and other types of punishment. The best book I know of on this topic is Margaret Pelling’s Medical Conflicts in Early Modern London (Oxford UP, 2003), which includes quite a lot on nursing and on women as both patients and caregivers. My understanding is that women’s main role in medicine during this time period was either as midwives or as herbwomen, caring primarily for other women and children within their own households. This may have been somewhat different in other places/eras; see, for instance, The Western Medical Tradition: 800 BC to AD 1800 by Conrad, Neve, Nutton, Porter, and Wear of the Academic Unit of the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London (Cambridge UP, 1995). This also brings to mind an article I read recently that mentions a woman healer, “The Qualifications of Jewish Physicians in the Middle Ages” by Cecil Roth (in the journal Speculum Vol. 28, no. 4, Oct. 1953, pp. 834-43); it’s rather old but might be worth a look. You have sparked my interest in this aspect of medical history, and I will have an eye out for helpful references now! I will let you know if anything further comes across my radar. Let’s keep in touch! Best, Jillian

      • Kristi george says:

        Wow, Jillian! I feel like I’ve won the lotto! That helps tremendously and ill be sure to obtain those references! I’m leaning toward a critical discourse analysis on the subject so your ideas and suggestions help. Ill keep you posted and thanks for keeping an eye out! Right now I have to develop macro and micro questions for my comp exam and I’m suffering from the dreaded writers block! Looking forward to conversing with you again! Sincerely Kristi George

  2. Rebecca Russell says:

    Hi Jillian – I’m amazed that I found your website – I had no idea there was so much information on Crooke. I am writing a script based on him and his time at Bedlam. What sources would you recommend – the juicier the better!! I want to concentrate on the darker side of the story of the hospital. Any help or pointers gratefully received! Kind regards Rebecca

    • Hi Rebecca,

      Crooke’s story certainly sparks the imagination, doesn’t it? For more sources on Crooke, you may want to check out my “further reading” page. The O’Donoghue book may be of particular interest to you. Also, some critics have postulated that Crooke’s tenure at Bedlam was the inspiration for the “Mad Doctor Alibius” character in Thomas Middleton’s play “The Changeling,” although no one has uncovered specific evidence for this.

      I see a lot of creative possibilities for Crooke’s life. Good luck with your script, and please do let me know if I can offer further input. The blog has been rather neglected this past year, but I still hope to find time to return to it.

      Best, Jillian

  3. Margaret Thickstun says:

    Jillian–I am working on Anne Bradstreet’s poem on the four humors, which is based heavily on Crooke. I have a question about a moment when she is discussing the spinal cord and nervous system:

    Mine likewise is the marrow of the back,
    Which runs through all the spondles of the rack. 565
    It is the substitute o’th’ royal Brain,
    All nerves (except seven pair) to it retain,
    And the strong ligaments from hence arise,
    With joint to joint the entire body ties.
    Some other parts there issue from the Brain 570
    Whose use and worth to tell I must refrain;
    Some worthy learned Crooke may these reveal,
    But modesty hath charged me to conceal.

    I assume that this last comment refers to something related to sexual function, but cannot find what or where? Could you direct me to a likely location? Thanks.–Margie

    • Hello, Margie!

      What an intriguing question… at the moment I don’t have an answer, but I will spend some time thinking about this. Crooke’s descriptions of sexual function are a particularly important aspect of Mikrokosmographia. Yet despite the book’s indexing, it is not always easy to identify the location of any given reference, as Crooke will almost off-handedly mention things at the strangest moments, and of course there is a great deal of material to wade through. But if I come up with anything that might be relevant, I will certainly let you know! You can reach me via email at jillian[dot]linster[at]gmail[dot]com.

      Best wishes, Jillian

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