The project aims at describing stylistic changes in medical English in a long diachronic perspective in a multifaceted sociohistorical framework: in addition to anchoring texts in their generic and sociolinguistic context, we study linguistic phenomena in relation to scientific ideologies. For our research material, we are compiling a computer-readable Corpus of Early English Medical Writing. The results obtained from several studies show that this new approach is fruitful and that variability in language reflects a complex network of underlying parameters. For a comprehensive diachronic description further studies are needed, but some lines of development are gradually beginning to emerge, and we have reached a stage where some level of synthesis is possible. Individual members of the project have adapted the methodological frame to their own research purposes.