School of History, Classics and Archaeology

Staff Profile

Dr Thomas Rütten

Reader in the History of Medicine


Roles and Responsibilities

Member of the HASS Faculty's Ethics Committee; Ethics Convenor, School of History, Classics and Archaeology; Member of the School's Research Committee; Subject-level NBDTP coordinator; Member of Board of Studies in History and Classics; personal tutor.


Licenced physician; PhD in the History of Medicine; Habilitation in the History and Theory of Medicine

Previous Positions

University of Münster, Institute for the Theory and History of Medicine (1990-1994; since 1995 as Privatdozent)
Herzog August Library (HAB) in Wolfenbüttel (1994-1997)
Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies (1999-2000)
University of Paris VII (Denis Diderot), REHSEIS (2001-2002)

Honours and Awards

Member of the Editorial Board of Early Science and Medicine (2013-)

Member of External Review Panel of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2008- )

Wellcome Trust Strategic Award jointly held with colleagues from Newcastle and Durham (2007-2012) 

Wellcome Trust History of Medicine Funding Committee (2006-2009)

Wellcome Trust University Award (2002-2007)

Honorary lecturer in the History of Medicine at Newcastle University appointed by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries in London (2003- 2017) and member of the Society's examination committee for the Diploma in the History of Medicine (2011-2017)

Member of the Academic Board of the Davos Literature Festival (2000-2012)

Fulbright Scholarship (1999-2000)

Award of the Stiftung Lehre (a teaching award) at Münster University (1997)

University Prize Münster (1992)


German, English, French, Italian (active)
Spanish, Latin, Greek (passive)


Research Interests

Over the last 30 years, I have developed research specialisms in Classical medicine, particularly Hippocratic medicine (and the history of its reception up until the 20th century), Renaissance and Early Modern medicine, and 20th-century medicine, most notably in the history of Hippocratism(s), melancholy, the discipline of Medical History, as well as in the representations of medicine in fiction and works of fine art. In terms of methodology, I am particularly interested in issues relating to the history of ideas, the theory of reception, narratology, iconography, and historiography. 

Other Expertise

I am a licenced physician and a translator of English/American novels into German including those by Pauline Melville, Hanif Kureishi, and Dave Eggers. I also co-translated the award winning book "The Spirit catches you and you Fall Down" by Anne Fadiman into German. I was fortunate to spend some time at the Europäisches Übersetzer-Kollegium in Straelen.

Current/ongoing Work

Correspondence between Karl Sudhoff and Tibor v. Győry (annotated edition in collaboration with Dr Anne Oommen-Halbach, University of Dusseldorf)

Death in Waldniel: The story of Egon R.

Hippocrates Commentaries in the Early Modern Period 

Frank, Erich. Aristotle's Testimony on Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans. Manuscript completed and edited by Emma and Ludwig Edelstein between 1949 and 1965 on the basis of Frank's papers. Prepared for publication by Thomas Rütten and Peter Singer on the basis of galley proofs recently rediscovered in the archive of the American Philosophical Society. With a Postscript by Walter Burkert. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society

Future Research

Ludwig Edelstein's correspondence: An annotated selection of his extant letters

Research Roles

Member of the Faculty Ethics Committee; School's Ethics Convenor; member of the School's Research Committee; Subject-level NBDTP coordinator.

Postgraduate Supervision

Current PhD projects:

First supervisor:

Elizabeth Cooper, ‘Self-harming’ in Antiquity

Second supervisor:

Mía Menéndez Motta, Johann Heinrich Meiboms Kommentar zum Hippokratischen Eid (Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Institut für Lateinische Philologie des Mittelalters und der Neuzeit; 50%)

Ariel Shangguan, The Politics of Translation: International Relations in the Third Space (Newcastle University, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology; 30%)

Completed PhD projects:

Anne Kristin Oommen-Halbach, Briefe von Walter von Brunn (1876-1952) an Tibor Győry (1869-1938) aus den Jahren 1924-1937; published: (Remscheid: Gardez, 2004) (= Studien zur Geschichte der Medizingeschichte und Medizingeschichtsschreibung, vol. 1) (first supervisor)

Karin Geiger, Der diagnostische Blick - Martin Gumpert als Arzt, Medizinhistoriker und ärztlicher Schriftsteller; published: (Remscheid: Gardez, 2004) (= Studien zur Geschichte der Medizingeschichte und Medizingeschichtsschreibung, vol. 2) (first supervisor)

Maithe Hulskamp, 'Sleep and Dreams in Ancient Medical Diagnosis and Prognosis', 2008 (second supervisor)

Nadine Metzger, 'Pre-modern Histories of Lycanthropy and Ephialtes', published: Wolfsmenschen und naechtliche Heimsuchungen: Zur kulturellen Verortung vormoderner Konzepte von Lykanthropie und Ephialtes (Remscheid: Gardez, 2011) (= Studien zur Geschichte der Medizingeschichte und Medizingeschichtsschreibung, vol. 4) (first supervisor)

Nathalie Hawkes, 'Beyond the Sun King's bedside: Antoine Vallot and the broader identity of the premier medecin du roi in Louis XIV's reign', 2014 (first supervisor)

Sonja Lapraik, 'The Hippocrates Portrait in the Studiolo of Urbino: Imagery in Context', 2015 (first supervisor)

Brianne Preston, 'Medicine in Flux: An examination of Lazaro de Soto's exegesis of Places in Man', 2015 (first supervisor) 

Fiona Howarth, 'Humanitas et Ratio - Reflections of Ludwig Edelstein's life and work in his extant epistolary network', 2015 (first supervisor)

Esteem Indicators

Referee of research grant/membership applications for the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the Wellcome Trust in London, the Italian Ministry for Education University and Research (MIUR), the John D. and Catharine T. MacArthur Foundation in Chicago, the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung in Bonn, Netherland's Organisation for Scientific Research (Veni Humanities), the Einstein Stiftung in Berlin, the Royal Society, the Wingate Foundation in London, the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel.

Peer reviewer of submitted book proposals, book series proposals, special issues of journals and submitted journal articles for Oxford University Press, Pennsylvania University Press, Routledge, the Bulletin for the History of Medicine, Early Science and Medicine, Annals of Anatomy, Medical History, Social History of Medicine, Journal of Hellenic Studies, Intellectual History Review, Medizinhistorisches Journal, Minerva, Medical Humanities, Society, Biology and Human Affairs.


Office Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, 3-4pm, ARMB, 1.39 

Undergraduate Teaching

Human Dissection in Antiquity (CAC2045/3045; module leader)

Approaches to Western History of Medicine (HIS2078; module leader)

Approaches to the History of Medicine (HIS2078)


Postgraduate Teaching

Introduction to the History of Medicine (SHS8124; module leader; team-taught)

The Patient in History (SHS8127; module leader; team-taught)

Practice in History (HIS8061; team-taught) 

MA dissertation (SHS8099)