Fred Gibbs is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University and Director of Digital Scholarship at the Center for History and New Media. He specializes in late medieval and early modern history of science and medicine. His work has been supported by numerous research grants and fellowships, including those from the National Science Foundation, the New York Academy of Medicine, and the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy. He teaches courses on the digital humanities and on various topics in the history of science, medicine, and technology.
Gibbs received his B.A. from Carleton College, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Gibbs’s current research surveys Western medical conceptions of poison from antiquity through the sixteenth century. He focuses on the ways in which toxicology was transformed by medico-philosophers in the fourteenth century through debates about its definition and nature, and how new conceptions of poison influenced later thinking about the causes of disease. More broadly, his work explores the intersection of natural philosophy and the human body in the late medieval and early modern periods. Nascent projects include a longitudinal study of the relationship between the concepts of nutrition/generation and corruption/putrefaction insofar as they were used to explain processes of change inside the human body.
He is also at work on several digital history projects. One effort (funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation) will map botanical data held in JSTOR’s Plants Database, and will help in understanding the collection patterns of early twentieth-century scientific expeditions and commodity exchange in the Caribbean and in Africa. This project also helps outline sustainable processes to allow researchers to help with metadata correction. Another effort (funded by a Google Digital Humanities Grant) with Dan Cohen, will reexamine characterizations of Victorian literature by text-mining the large corpus available via Google Books. Gibbs is also developing a web-based transcription and TEI encoding tool for easier aggregated study of both medieval manuscripts and early modern printed texts. A prototype research project will provide a bird’s eye view of how knowledge about the natural world was amassed and revised in natural history texts of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
More about his research and teaching can be found at historyproef.
HIST 688: Theories and Methodologies of Digital History (Clio I)
HIST 388: History of Western Medicine
Hist 635: The Scientific Revolution
Generation from Putrefaction and Early Modern Causes of Disease, History of Science Society Annual Meeting (November 2010)
New Textual Traditions for Discovering the Middle Ages, Third International MARGOT Conference: Digital Middle Ages (June 2010)
Medicine and Metaphor: Medical Discussions and Definitions of Poison, International Congress of the Medieval Academy of America (May 2010)
Poison in the World and the Body: Concepts of ‘Species’ in Medical Theory, Arizona Center For Medieval and Renaissance Studies Annual Meeting (Feb 2010)