British Romantic Generalism in the Age of Specialism, 1870-1990

Stephen T. Casper, Rick Welsh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This essay explores the impact of 'generalism' and 'general practice' on the specialisation of British medicine using the case of neurology in Britain to reveal characteristics of British 'generalist medical culture' from 1870 to 1990. It argues that 'generalism' represented a particular epistemological position in Victorian medicine, one that then created a natural bridge between science and medicine over which almost all physicians and scientists were comfortable walking. The legacies of that Victorian 'generalist preference' exerted an enduring impact on the specialisation process as physicians experienced it in the twentieth century and as this case of neurology reveals so clearly. Neurologists and general physicians would still be arguing about the relative merits of a general medical education into the 1980s. By then, however, the emergence of government bodies promoting specialist labour conditions would have rendered the process seemingly inexorable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-174
Number of pages21
JournalSocial History of Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • British medicine
  • general practice
  • generalism
  • history of medicine
  • history of neurology
  • neurologists
  • nineteenth-century medicine
  • specialisation
  • twentieth-century medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • History


Dive into the research topics of 'British Romantic Generalism in the Age of Specialism, 1870-1990'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this