E. A. Driggers

Sidney M. Edelstein Fellow

  • Phone: 215.629.5183

Allen Driggers

Edward Allen (E. A.) Driggers is a PhD candidate at the University of South Carolina in the Department of History. His dissertation, “Networks of Nature: Chemistry and the Revision of Humoral Theory,” examines the chemical practices of physicians in the early 19th century.

Lavoisier’s revolutionary chemical research in the 18th century allowed physicians to analyze the fluids of the body and relate bodily substances to disease symptoms. A group of physicians used the new chemistry to study diseases connected to fluid blockages or imbalances, like urinary stones and diabetes. Critics of humoral medicine based their arguments on the fact that scientists no longer believed in just four elements, nor in four humors dictating all biological processes. Quantitative data from the new chemistry displaced older qualitative analysis. However, Lavoisier’s chemistry encouraged a revival of humoral theory, “proven” by the careful measurement of the body’s fluids. Driggers’s project is a study of seven physician-chemists—Benjamin Rush, Thomas Cooper, Edward Darrel Smith, William Prout, Thomas Thomson, George Pearson, and Alexander Marcet—and their attempts to revise humoral theory with this new chemistry.

Allen (E. A.) received bachelor of arts degrees in both history and women’s and gender studies from North Carolina State University. He received a master of arts degree in history from the University of South Carolina. His master’s thesis “‘A Useful Hint’: Edward Darrell Smith and the Urological Community of the Nineteenth Century,” examined the interaction between patient and physician during the case of a particularly painful urinary stone, and the emergence of chemical interventions to treat the stone.

When not thinking about urinary stones, Allen looks forward to sampling the vast array of food offerings in Philadelphia and enjoys talking cinema (from romantic comedies to classics). Relocating to Philadelphia from Columbia with him are his wife and their animal entourage.