Ben Mauk | The Sun Magazine

Ben Mauk

Ben Mauk is an online contributor to The New Yorker, and his nonfiction has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books and McSweeney’s. He teaches at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, where he lives in the converted servants’ quarters of a drafty nineteenth-century manor house.

— From May 2014


I am always asking doctors about their medical equipment, so I know that the stethoscope was popularized not because it improved a doctor’s ability to hear a heartbeat — although it had that effect, too — but because in nineteenth-century France it was considered improper to put one’s ear to a man’s chest or, especially, a woman’s bosom. The amplified heartbeat was secondary to the stethoscope’s main function, decorum.

May 2014
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