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William Cullen, Consecrated Heretic: A Study in Eighteenth-Century Science and Patronage

MULCAHY, URSULA,MARY (2020) William Cullen, Consecrated Heretic: A Study in Eighteenth-Century Science and Patronage. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



Focusing on the life and career of William Cullen, I argue that during the eighteenth century no physician or surgeon, no matter how well-qualified, could succeed in establishing himself in practice without having recourse to the system of patronage which dominated medical life at that time. In order to do so, I have utilised the concept of "capital" developed by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu in his book, "Homo Academicus." I start by showing how Bourdieu's concept of capital can be extended to cover not only French universities in the twentieth century, but also Scottish Universities in the eighteenth century, the way Scottish society operated and the system of patronage upon which Cullen's career depended. In his book, Bourdieu introduced the concept of a "consecrated heretic." This was his term for someone who did not teach a mainstream subject but managed to become an academic because their expertise introduced new subjects to the university curriculum.
This term is, I argue, a good description of Cullen, whose aim in life was to become a physician and teacher of medicine. He realised however, that he did not have the patronage needed for a university appointment, so he turned to chemistry as a way of gaining entrée into the system. Chemistry had been introduced to medical schools in order to teach students something about materia medica. Cullen expanded his course to cover all forms of chemistry. The nature of that chemistry and the natural philosophy on which it was based form a large part of my thesis. The final chapter shows how Cullen was able to reach outside of the university to men who were interested in using chemistry to improve Scotland's industrial base. They were able to provide him with the patronage he needed to achieve his gaol.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:William Cullen, Chemistry, Patronage
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Philosophy, Department of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:23 Jan 2020 11:01

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