November 27th, 2002

More Thesis Help

Again, sorry to impose, but can anyone tell me if this below thesis looks OK? (Yes, I know it needs revisions for language and elegance of style.)


The 1856 cholera epidemic was one of the last major recurrences of cholera in Britain, as steady improvements in London’s infrastructure and the development of medical science limited recurrences of this dreaded disease, among other epidemic diseases. Indeed, the cholera epidemic of the previous year had ended largely because of the intervention of John Snow, who had earlier famously identified the contaminated water at the public pump in St. James’ Parish as the epidemic’s source. Snow’s example epitomized the development of the British state, in broader matters of public affairs as in the specific field of public health, as an essentially regulatory entity concerned with ensuring the proper functioning of the bodies of its subjects. This can be taken to represent a culmination of the trend, demonstrated by Foucault, for western European governments in the early modern era to prohibit improper behaviour on the parts of their subjects, whether sexual, religious, or political. When, in the 19th century, the growth of modern medical science allowed the regulation of contagious diseases, their scope promptly spread to encompass this new field. Following previous established precedents, the control of epidemic disease was manifested not only in terms of action against disease-causing elements—whether infestations of infectious organisms or inadequate civic sanitation—but against behaviours, particularly those characteristic among working-class communities and the poor, which were viewed as causative or aggravating factors in illness. Even as the British state strived to control epidemic diseases, however, it was hobbled by numerous factors which prevented its reach from ever becoming as complete as envisioned: the survival of laissez-faire economic doctrines which were actively hostile to the prospect of tight state regulation of public life; the survival of folk medical practices and folk suspicions of the elites among the lower classes; and, the still-faltering power of 19th century medicine to explain epidemic disease such as cholera. In this ideological perspective, only slow, gradual change, was possible.

So Far

I dropped off two papers--the Taiwanese subempire paper I'd mentioned earlier, and a conference paper using the subimperial conception in relation to Taiwanese first nations and early 20th century Canadian missionaries--by Dr. MacLaine. I hope I'm not overwhelming him, but I do th9ink thjat the concept is important for my Honours.

I saw Jeremy Livingston in the English Lounge and chatted. Smart and funny and wacky--I'd missed him. It's good he's taking classes again, out of boredom so he suggests.

My papers--ah. The HIST 391 paper is coming along nicely, but I'm rather concerned for my HIST 261 paper. Anyone who'll comment below on the thesis (yes, I know it needs rewriting for more elegant and direct language) will be in my debt.

You know, after I finish my papers, I'll have to study for the exams, provide a radically revised version of my Barometer Rising rough draft component for my Honours essay, and--oh yes--investigate further into a school for Master's. Have I mentioned having a life? No, I've not.

A general shout-out: In your academic career, have you ever felt a moment where all of the separate threads of your studies seem to be coming together?