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Imagining IllnessPublic Health and Visual Culture$
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David Serlin

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816648221

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816648221.001.0001

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Performing Live Surgery on Television and the Internet since 1945

Performing Live Surgery on Television and the Internet since 1945

(p.223) 11. Performing Live Surgery on Television and the Internet since 1945
Imagining Illness

David Serlin

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter charts the broadcast history of live surgery in the United States, from its first appearance on network television in the late 1940s through its contemporary manifestations on the Internet. It distinguishes programs depicting documentaries that included live surgery from contemporary fictional dramas (called “stethoscope operas”) of the early 1960s such as Ben Casey, M.D. and Dr. Kildare, as well as live display from other types of medical diagnostics or imaging techniques. The chapter shows that, in promoting the often conflicting goals of public health, live surgery broadcast in the immediate postwar era was more like the Internet than we might expect, especially for the ways it sustained corporate sponsorship while promoting medical services to an increasingly prosperous clientele eager to purchase health services as consumer amenities.

Keywords:   broadcast, live surgery, United States, network television, Internet, documentaries, fictional dramas, medical diagnostics, public health, corporate sponsorship

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