Mr Giovanni Succi Meets Dr Luigi Luciani in Florence: Hunger artists and experimental physiology in the late nineteenth century

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Abstract

© 2014 The Author. This paper describes the fast of the hunger artist Giovanni Succi (1853-1918) and his stay at the laboratory of Professor Luigi Luciani (1840-1919), in Florence, in 1888. In his fight against public suspicion of fraud, Succi's success in the marketplace owed a great deal to the scientific authority of prestigious physiologists such as Luciani. In turn, the debates on the causes of resistance to hunger gained Luciani public recognition, and helped him in his attempts to promote a comprehensive image of physiology which contrasted with the contemporary trends towards medical specialization. As a result, Succi's fast and Luciani's supervision were mutually beneficial and furthered the professional interests of both men. This case study sheds new light on the nature and status of late nineteenth-century physiology as an academic discipline. It contributes to recent historiographical trends which try to see beyond the laboratory-centred experimental turn, and focus on the heterogeneity of scientific practices and their circulation in new local contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-81
JournalSocial History of Medicine
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2015

Keywords

  • experimental physiology
  • Giovanni Succi
  • hunger artists
  • Luigi Luciani
  • science in the marketplace
  • science popularization
  • scientific authority

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