This essay examines two of the best-known postbellum representations of country doctors, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps's Doctor Zay (1882) and Sarah Orne Jewett's A Country Doctor (1884). While they have often been considered from a feminist point of view, this essay seeks both to complement and to argue against these existing readings by bringing a specifically geo-medical framework to bear on the texts. I consider both the thematic and the generic implications of representing country doctors in the postbellum era, exploring how they reflect, refract and encode the state of medical knowledge in postbellum America. I argue that literary representations of country doctors can contribute to an understanding of postbellum medical modernization by decentring it – by, in a sense, allowing us to comprehend the course of modern medical knowledge from a place usually assumed to remain outside modernity's transformations. Whilst I do, therefore, approach both these novels from a loosely new historicist perspective, I also want to think about how the social context they were engaging with determined, constrained and embedded itself into the thematic, formal and generic makeup of the novels themselves. Ultimately, this essay not only offers fresh readings of two important late nineteenth-century novels, but makes an intervention within the wider debates about nineteenth-century medical history and geography.