CfP: Disease and Ease, 1500–1800
‘O how sweet is rest and ease after Sickness and pain!’, exclaimed the Lancashire minister and medical practitioner James Clegg (1679–1755) when he found himself ‘much better’ from a month-long ague. This 2-day conference will investigate what exactly sickness and health felt like for patients such as Clegg. We invite 20-minute papers on the diverse sensations, emotions, thoughts, and spiritual feelings of patients and their families and practitioners from ‘the first invasion’ of illness to ‘perfect recovery’, chronic debility, or death.
By encompassing all states, signs, stages, and outcomes of disease in early modern Europe and the wider world, 'Disease & Ease' seeks to broaden and rebalance our overall picture of premodern health, showing that not all conditions ‘carried the patient to the grave’. Lately, a number of scholarly centres for the medical humanities have been restyled as centres for ‘health humanities’, a linguistic adjustment indicative of a growing desire to expand the remits of the field to incorporate a greater array of physical and mental states, including health itself. It thus seems an opportune moment to hold a conference which considers experiences of health and ease alongside sickness and suffering.
Since Roy Porter’s call for a ‘medical history from below’ (1985), much has been written about the early modern patient. The first swathe of research focused mainly on patients’ practical responses to sickness, such as their choices of therapies and practitioners. In the 1990s, scholars became increasingly interested in the … READ MORE