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Appetite and Its Discontents: Science, Medicine, and the Urge to Eat, 1750-1950
by Elizabeth A. Williams
University of Chicago Press, 2020
Paper: 978-0-226-69304-0 | Cloth: 978-0-226-69299-9 | eISBN: 978-0-226-69318-7
Library of Congress Classification QP136.W55 2020
Dewey Decimal Classification 612.3

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ABOUT THIS BOOK
Why do we eat? Is it instinct? Despite the necessity of food, anxieties about what and how to eat are widespread and persistent. In Appetite and Its Discontents, Elizabeth A. Williams explores contemporary worries about eating through the lens of science and medicine to show us how appetite—once a matter of personal inclination—became an object of science.
 
Williams charts the history of inquiry into appetite between 1750 and 1950, as scientific and medical concepts of appetite shifted alongside developments in physiology, natural history, psychology, and ethology. She shows how, in the eighteenth century, trust in appetite was undermined when researchers who investigated ingestion and digestion began claiming that science alone could say which ways of eating were healthy and which were not. She goes on to trace nineteenth- and twentieth-century conflicts over the nature of appetite between mechanists and vitalists, experimentalists and bedside physicians, and localists and holists, illuminating struggles that have never been resolved. By exploring the core disciplines in investigations in appetite and eating, Williams reframes the way we think about food, nutrition, and the nature of health itself..

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