Weissman Professor Bert Hansen Honored for Book on Medicine and Popular Culture

Hansen Weissman history professor Bert Hansen has been selected as the recipient of the 2009 Ray and Pat Browne Award by the Popular Culture/American Culture Association. His book, Picturing Medical Progress from Pasteur to Polio (Rutgers University Press) was named best single authored work published last year.

Professor Hansen’s book traces shifting public attitudes toward doctors and medicine from the mid-19th century, when most people regarded the medical profession with distrust and fear, to the mid-20th century, when Jonas Salk and the conquest of polio turned doctors and scientists into popular heroes. The transformation in attitudes and imagery, Hansen argues, began with Louis Pasteur, whose highly publicized inoculations saved two dog-bitten French boys from death by rabies.

Bert Hansen tells his meticulously researched story using contemporary press accounts, cartoons, and other illustrations. After Pasteur, many other medical heroes and saviors began to appear on both sides of the Atlantic and the triumph of medical progress became a frequently told story in all sorts of media. Hansen chronicles this in a pleasing and accessible style with 130 archival illustrations. Critics and commentators have hailed Bert Hansen’s book as “authoritative,” “well-written,” and “just plain fun.”

The Ray and Pat Browne award is named for two of the pioneers of the Popular Culture Association whose work did a great deal to expand and legitimize popular culture as an area of study in the academic world. Bert Hansen will pick up his award at ceremonies during the annual Popular Culture/American Culture Association Conference which this year takes place in St. Louis March 31 – April 3, 2010. For more about Hansen’s book and illustrations, visit his website at www.berthansen.com.

Text from Baruch website edited by J D Sallen
The City University of New York