The Great Nation in Decline

Sex, Modernity and Health Crises in Revolutionary France c.1750-1850
Author(s): 
Quinlan, Sean M.
ISBN: 
9780754660989
Date published: 
December 2007
Hardback
Pages: 
0

This book studies how doctors responded to - and helped shape - deep-seated fears about nervous degeneracy and population decline in France between 1750 and 1850. It uncovers a rich and far-ranging medical debate in which four generations of hygiene activists used biomedical science to transform the self, sexuality and community in order to regenerate a sick and decaying nation; a programme doctors labelled 'physical and moral hygiene'. The study argues that medicine acquired unprecedented political, social and cultural position in French society, with doctors becoming the primary spokesmen for bourgeois values, and thus helped to define the new world that emerged from the post-revolutionary period.