UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies is an interdisciplinary centre for the integrated study of science's history, philosophy, sociology, communication and policy, located in the heart of London. Founded in 1921. Award winning for teaching and research, plus for our public engagement programme. Rated as outstanding by students at every level.

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Gregory - Plato's Philosophy of Science

MacLehose, William

Dr William MacLehose, photo by Chris Clunn

Lecturer in History of Science and Medicine

office: 2.3 in 22 Gordon Square

tel: 0207 679 2929 (x3-2929)

Dr William MacLehose works on the connections between medical, natural philosophical, and religious thought in western Europe during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. His research emphasises the transformations within medical knowledge as the medieval west rediscovered the Hippocratic-Galenic traditions via the Arabic world. His primary interest lies in the importance of childhood as a source of interest and concern within medieval society, as reflected in the fields of embryology, obstetrics, and pediatrics. He is the author of A Tender Age: Cultural Anxieties over the Child in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries (Columbia University Press, 2006) (link)

> recent publications (UCL database | pubs page)


  1. HPSC3029 Medicine, Disease, and History
  2. HPSC3030 Science and Global History
  3. HPSCGA20 Science, Technology, and Medicine across Medieval Worlds
  4. SSC0000 Origins of Western Medicine

Administrative duties for 2011-12

  • STS BSc admission tutor
  • STS liaison to Human Sciences BSc
  • STS Global Citizenship Programme, team member
  • STS Undergraduate Teaching Committee


Medieval Medicine and Religion in Thought and Practice: Devotion to the Christ Child

My new project is a study in the interdependence of medical traditions with other modes of thought and life in the heart of the medieval period. In particular, my research the importance of medical knowledge to theology and popular medicine, from the eleventh through the early fourteenth centuries, by studying the emerging popular and learned devotion to the Holy Child. As western Europe underwent a religious transformation which increasingly exalted the humanity of Christ, spiritual thinkers and writers increasingly turned to the technical languages of pregnancy, birth, and childrearing in order to understand the Holy Infancy. To defend the Virgin Birth against doubters and unbelievers, theologians found recourse in the new medical theories of the universities. In far less learned arenas, pastoral and visionary writers found a new means of expressing their new faith through theatrical, literary, and mystical re-enactments of the Birth, and reveal much about the roles of midwives and wetnurses in medieval culture.

De curis or Passiones puerorum

I am also preparing a critical edition of the first western pediatric text, the De curis or Passiones puerorum attributed to Rhazes (al-Razi), which appeared in the twelfth century as the west assimilated much Greco-Arabic medical knowledge. The uniqueness of De curis lies in its independence from larger encyclopedias and from gynecological and obstetrical materials. Because it has no direct Greco-Arabic corollary, the text raises questions about the category of medical writing to which it may have belonged: it may be the beginning of a new genre of medical writing, but is it the origin of a new subfield of medicine dealing with childcare? The treatise reveals much about the ways in which Arabic medical knowledge was retained and transformed upon entering the western learned tradition.

Page last modified on 24 jan 12 15:52 by Joe Cain

UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS)
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