Upcoming Conference – Representing Infirmity: Diseased Bodies in Renaissance and Early Modern Italy, Monash University, 13-15 December 2017

This conference represents the first analysis of how diseased bodies were represented in Italy during the ‘long Renaissance’, from the early 1400s through ca. 1650. Many individual studies by historians of art and medicine address specific aspects of this subject, yet there has never been an attempt to define or explore the broader topic. Moreover, most studies interpret Renaissance images and text through the lens of current notions about disease. This conference avoids the pitfalls of retrospective diagnosis, and looks beyond the modern category of ‘disease’ by viewing ‘infirmity’ in Galenic humoural terms. Papers explore what infirmities were depicted in visual culture, in what context, why, and when. Specific examples consider the idealized body altered by disease, and the relationship between the depiction of infirmities through miracle cures and through medical treatment. Speakers also examine how and why these representations change across media and over time. Thus, certain types of diseased bodies appear often in votive images, but never in altarpieces or sculptures; representations of wounds and sores grow increasingly less graphic and frequent, but with notable exceptions. Finally, it explores how the development of greater knowledge of the workings and structure of the body in this period, through, for example, the growth of anatomy, was reflected in changing ideas and representations of the metaphorical, allegorical, and symbolic meanings of infirmity and disease. The conference addresses the construction of the notion of disease, and aims to present a new paradigm for the field.

The event is open to all and free of charge, no reservation required.

Link to the event: http://artsonline.monash.edu.au/the-body-in-the-city/events/

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