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Benjamin Rush, Edinburgh Medicine and the Rise of Physician Autobiography

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores the place of Scottish medicine in the autobiographical writing of the Philadelphia physician and signer of the American Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Rush, who studied at the University of Edinburgh from 1766 to 1768. It focuses on Rush’s ‘Scottish journal’ (his account of his period of study in Edinburgh), his protracted feud from 1797 over his treatment of yellow fever with the English journalist, politician and agriculturalist William Cobbett, and his account in ‘Travels through Life’ of that feud and of the influence of Cullen on his medical theory and practice. The different rhetorical strategies used by Rush to defend his character and practice and his role in the rise of physician autobiography are examined.



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