John Warner

John Warner's picture
Chn/Avalon Professor of History of Medicine, Professor of American Studies and History
SMH L224-226

John Harley Warner, a historian who focuses chiefly on American medicine and science, received his Ph.D. in 1984 from Harvard University (History of Science), and from 1984-1986 was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine in London. In 1986 he joined the Yale faculty with a primary appointment in the School of Medicine, where he is now Chair of the Section of the History of Medicine. His appointment is now fully split with the Department of History, and he is a core faculty member of the Program in the History of Science and medicine.  His research interests include the cultural and social history of medicine in 19th and 20th century America, transnational history, and medical cultures since the late 18th century. He is especially interested in clinical practice, orthodox and alternative healing, the multiple meanings of scientific medicine, and the interactions among identity, narrative, and aesthetics in the grounding of modern medicine.

His current research includes a book tentatively titled The Quest for Authenticity in Modern Medicine, a study of modernist dissonances in the United States from the 1860s through the 1970s.


Translating the Body: Medical Education in Southeast Asia (Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2017), with Hans Pols and C. Michele Thompson.

—Dissection: Photographs of a Rite of Passage in American Medicine, 1880-1930 (New York: Blast Books, 2009), with James M. Edmonson

—Locating Medical History: The Stories and Their Meanings, Baltimore and London, Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, March 2004, co-edited with Frank Huisman; paperback edition, 2006.

—Major Problems in the History of American Medicine and Public Health, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001; co-editor with Janet A. Tighe.

—Against the Spirit of System: The French Impulse in Nineteenth-century American Medicine, Princeton University Press, 1998. New paperback edition (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, Fall 2003, in press.)

—The Therapeutic Perspective: Medical Practice, Knowledge, and Identity in America, 1820-1885, Harvard University Press, 1986; with new preface, Princeton University Press, 1997.

Selected Recent Articles:

“Rereading The Gospel of Germs during a Pandemic,” Isis, 11 (December 2020), in press.

 “The Power of Weak Knowledge: Modernist Dissonances in American Medicine,” in Moritz Epple, Annette Imhausen, and Falk Müller, eds., Weak Knowledge: Forms, Functions and Dynamics (Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Campus, 2019), pp. 419-448.

 “Introduction,” in Richard J. Kahn, ed., A History of Diseases of the District of Maine, 1772-1820: The Unpublished Work of a Rural Physician in New England, by Jeremiah Barker MD (New York and London: Oxford University Press, in press).

“The Power of Weak Knowledge: Modernist Dissonances in American Medicine,” in Moritz Epple, Annette Imhausen, and Falk Müller, eds., Weak Knowledge: Forms, Functions, and Dynamics (Frankfurt: Goethe Universität, in process).        

“Introduction: Translating the Body: Medical Education in Southeast Asia,” in Hans Pols, Michele Thompson, and John Harley Warner, eds., Translating the Body: Medical Education in Southeast Asia (Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2017), with Hans Pols and C. Michele Thompson, pp. 1-37.

“Making the Case for History in Medical Education,” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 70 (2015): 623-652.  (With David Jones, Jeremy Greene, and Jacalyn Duffin).  Chinese translation in Journal of Guangxi University for Nationalities (Philosophy and Social Science Edition) 30, no. 20 (2018): 114-118.

“The Art of Medicine in an Age of Science: Reductionism, Holism, and the Doctor-Patient Relationship in the United States, 1890-1960,” in Nanami Suzuki, ed., Healing Alternatives: Care and Education as a Cultural Lifestyle (Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology, 2014), Senri Ethnological Reports, No. 120: 55-91.

“The Aesthetic Grounding of Modern Medicine” (The Fielding Garrison Lecture) Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 88 (2014): 1-47.

“Boundary Crossings in the History of Health Care,” Nursing History Review 22 (2014): 1-5.

“Remapping the History of Medicine,” Health and History 15 (2013): 1-4.  (With Naomi Rogers.)

The Doctor in Early Cold War America,” The Lancet 381 (2013): 1452-1453.

“The Humanising Power of Medical History: Responses to Biomedicine in the 20th-Century United States,” Medical Humanities, 37 (2011): 91-96; earlier versions in Cheng Yuzhiu and Gu Xue, eds., Selected Papers of Beijing Forum 2010: The Harmony of Civilizations and Prosperity for All (Beijing: Peking University Press, 2011), pp. 254-267, and Journal of Peking University (Philosophy and Social Sciences) [in Chinese].

“’A Pledge to the World’: Medical Schools and the Making of American Physicians in the Mid-Nineteenth Century,” in Kerry L. Falvey, ed., Medicine at Yale: The First 200 Years (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), pp. 48-51.

“Medicine, Media, and the Dramaturgy of Biomedical Research: Historical Perspectives,” in Peter J. Snyder, Linda C. Mayes, and Dennis D. Spencer, eds., Science and the Media: Delgado’s Brave Bulls and the Ethics of Scientific Disclosure (London: Elsevier, 2009), pp. 13-24.

“Anatomical Instruction and Training for Professionalism from the 19th to the 21st Centuries,” in special issue of Clinical Anatomy on medical professionalism and gross anatomy teaching (with Lawrence J. Rizzolo), 19 (2006): 403-414.

“Grand Narrative and Its Discontents: Medical History in the Social Transformation of American Medicine,” in Mark Schlesinger, Keith Wailoo, and Timothy Jost, eds., Transforming American Medicine: A Twenty-Year Retrospective on The Social Transformation of American Medicine, special issue of Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 29 (2004): 757-780.

“Medical Histories,” in Frank Huisman and John Harley Warner, eds., Locating Medical History: The Stories and Their Meanings (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), pp. 1-30, with Frank Huisman.

 “Making History in American Medical Culture: The Antebellum Competition for Hippocrates,” in David Cantor, ed., Reinventing Hippocrates (Aldershot, Hantshire: Ashgate, 2002), pp. 200-236.