Medical History and Legal Systems: Public Lecture by Sara Butler

Monday, 28 January, 17:00-20:00

Belle van Zuylenzaal, University Library (Singel 425)

This workshop will explore the links between medical knowledge and judicial systems in late medieval Europe.

Abstract: Common law was an all-male system, with one glaring exception: juries of matrons. If a convicted felon requested a reprieve from execution on the grounds of pregnancy, it was the responsibility of a group of twelve matrons to perform an inspection in order to determine if she was in fact pregnant. Matrons were in a position of great authority. Their verdicts were definitive: if they decided a woman was pregnant, then she was sent back to prison. Despite the significance of their role, little is known about medieval matrons and what qualified them to sit on a jury. Were they mothers? Honorable wives? Midwives? The goal of this paper is to argue that matrons had training in obstetrics. This was particularly important for medieval matrons because the quickening (that is ensoulment, signaled by the first fetal movements) did not become the focal point of the matrons’ assessment until at least 1348.  Before this, the diagnosis was much more medically challenging as matrons had to determine whether a felon had conceived. Overall, the medieval records demonstrate great confidence in medieval matrons and their obstetrical expertise.

Sara Butler is a professor and King Georges III Chair in British history at the Ohio State University. Her research focuses on the social history of law. Her latest book, Forensic Medicine and Death Investigation in Medieval England (Routledge 2015) explores the use of medical knowledge in legal investigations surrounding death.

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New Article by Guy Geltner: “In the Camp and on the March: Military Manuals as Sources for Studying Premodern Public Health”

Abstract: Historians tend to view public health as a quintessentially modern phenomenon, enabled by the emergence of representative democracies, centralised bureaucracies and advanced biomedicine. While social, urban and religious historians have begun chipping away at the entrenched dichotomy between pre/modernity that this view implies, evidence for community prophylactics in earlier eras also emerges from a group of somewhat unexpected sources, namely military manuals. Texts composed for (and often by) army leaders in medieval Latin Europe, East Rome (Byzantium) and other premodern civilisations reflect the topicality of population-level preventative healthcare well before the nineteenth century, thereby broadening the path for historicising public health from a transregional and even global perspective. Moreover, at least throughout the Mediterranean world, military manuals also attest the enduring appeal of Hippocratic and Galenic prophylactics and how that medical tradition continued for centuries to shape the routines and material culture of vulnerable communities such as armies.

You can access the article here.

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Of Cesspits and Sewers – Will Hunt

Exploring the unlikely history of sanitation management in medieval Holland

By Will Hunt

“On a balmy July afternoon, archaeologist Roos van Oosten strides through a muddied plot of land near the center of the Dutch city of Leiden and takes an exploratory sniff. The plot, bordered on all sides by apartment buildings, will soon be part of a housing development known as the Meelfabriek, but, for now, van Oosten and a team of excavators from RAAP Archaeological Consultancy are studying the remnants of a 400-year-old neighborhood.

[…] Van Oosten—along with Coomans and other colleagues—now participates in a multidisciplinary research initiative called Premodern Healthscaping. The project aims to reveal the sophistication of public health and sanitation in late medieval cities. They strive to counter the “smear campaign” carried out by the Victorians on medieval urban life. (The project motto: “Less mud-slinging and more facts.”) Contributors to the effort have archaeologically documented the ubiquity of public baths in late medieval cities, where people of every class came to wash themselves on a regular basis. They have shown that soap-making guilds were part of a booming economy, that late medieval urbanites were lovers of perfume, and that they valued clean teeth. Literary scholars have shown that medieval poets championed the joys of bathing and that knighting ceremonies culminated in scented baths.”

Read the full article here.

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Science and Medicine in the Insular Middle Ages

Queen’s University Belfast
7th December 2018

This one-day symposium focuses on the reception, transmission and translation of scientific and medical knowledge in the Insular Middle Ages. The papers presented overview a variety of subjects: Old and Middle English, Old and Middle Irish, Latin, Old Norse, Medieval Welsh, as well as archaeology, manuscript studies, historical linguistics,and history of science.

This symposium offers a platform of discussion for scholars interested in the reception and transmission of scientific and medical knowledge over several centuries and across borders in England, Ireland, Wales, and Scandinavia.

You can find more information here.

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Preserving the Past in 3D. Application of GIS and Photogrammetry to Human Burials

Presentation and Workshop with Francesco Coschino and Taylor Zaneri

Thursday, 13 December, 17:00-20:00

Oudemanhuispoort (Oudemanhuispoort 4-6), Room C1.23

This workshop presents preliminary results of an urban health analysis of medieval Bologna, as part of the Healthscaping Urban Europe project; this project is examining medieval health in Italy and the Low Countries, from AD 1200 to 1500. What was city life like in medieval Bologna? What were the health risks urban dwellers faced? This research uses GIS to correlate archaeological and historical information relating to urban infrastructure, waste disposal, and population before and after the Black Death. It examines how health and urban cleanliness differed within and around Bologna during this critical period, and how health promoting strategies changed over time.

Archaeology is, by its very nature, a destructive discipline: to uncover buried features we are forced to remove the past in layers, one by one, working back in time. The destruction of evidence that remained unaltered for centuries or millennia is the price we pay to learn about the past. When considering the excavation of any archaeological site, professionals should assess the impact of their actions and ensure that the results of their work outweigh the inevitable alteration of the subject matter.

The archaeological excavation of cemeteries has the potential to provide important information on the lifeways of past people, to complement historical records with physical evidence, and to ensure that the lessons of the past are not forgotten. Additionally, when a project aims to recover the past for the benefit of the entire community, archaeological investigations can play a major role in leading the restoration and preservation of valuable historical sites.

In recent years, technological advances have allowed archaeologists to incorporate tools and techniques that were developed in other disciplines, but whose application to archaeology has the potential to largely enrich our documentation capabilities. For instance, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), initially developed in cartography, now represent the gold standard for archaeological mapping and spatial analyses, with ever-growing applications and capabilities.

Digital photogrammetry is a more recent introduction into the archaeologist’s digital toolkit and its application to human burials holds high promise. Digital photogrammetry is a discipline based on photography and measurements that, by using photographs and specific software, allows to obtain a virtual model of an object that entirely preserves its original dimensional proportions.

One of the most important features of photogrammetry is that it gives researchers the ability to study objects without the need for physical interaction. This is particularly important when dealing with very fragile items, which may lay undisturbed in their original context (or in conditions suitable for their preservation). Photogrammetry is not limited to small objects, but can be applied also to larger structures (e.g., buildings) and objects that are inaccessible but visible. Ultimately, if something can be seen and photographed, it may be processed and converted into a 3D model. When applied to human burials, photogrammetry proves to be an exceptional means toward documentation and preservation that goes beyond conventional two-dimensional tools. In spite of the destructive nature of archaeology, photogrammetry allows to create a virtual replica of a burial, which will always be available for study even after the original feature has been removed from its original context. Furthermore, a 3D replica of a burial that may have been damaged or lost will always be much more revealing than a simple, conventional data sheet.

The contribution will examine the survey techniques and geographical management of data from archaeological and bio-archaeological contexts, focusing on some case studies in Italy and in the United States concerning episodes of cholera epidemics.

Francesco Coschino is a Medieval Archaeologist and Paleopathologist at the University of Pisa, Italy. He is the president of IRLAB (Institute for Research and Learning in Archaeology and Bioarchaeology), USA. His research interests involve archaeology, humanistic informatics, paleopathology and physical anthropology; he is particularly interested in computer models and their applications to collection and management of anthropological data. He is involved in anthropological/archaeological research and professional archaeological excavations and collaborates with Italian universities and institutions as well as Ohio State University.

Taylor Zaneri is a medieval archaeologist from New York. Her dissertation research examined the impact of lower-class rural producers in the emergence of the medieval city-state of Lucca, using geospatial, landscape, and zooarchaeological methods. She is currently working as a post-doctoral researcher as part of Dr. Guy Gelter’s Healthscaping Urban Europe project, using GIS to examine health and cleanliness in medieval Italian cities from 1200-1500.

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The Path to Pistoia: An Infrastructural Approach to Urban Hygiene before The Black Death

02 November 2018, 16:00.

Bushuis (Kloveniersburgwal 48), room E1.02.

In the second seminar of UvA Medieval Historians, Guy Geltner will discuss his new artile “The Path to Pistoia: An Infrastructural Approach to Urban Hygiene before The Black Death”.

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Lecture and Masterclass with Monica H. Green

Lecture Monica Green, Arizona State University, 13 November 2018 in Utrecht

On November 13thMonica Green will give a lecture: A New Story of the Black Death: The Latest Work on the Science and History of the World’s Largest Pandemic

Our understanding of the Black Death, the plague pandemic that ravaged Europe, the Middle East, and north Africa between 1346 and 1353, has been transformed in the last decade and a half because of new developments in genetics. Historians are now learning how to incorporate the findings from genetics into new narratives, ones that show that this largest of pandemics was even larger, and more widespread, than we ever imagined before. This talk will summarize the latest work in the field, and sketch out future directions of research.

Lunch lecture
This lecture is open to the public, but with regard to accommodation and lunch, we would like you to register with Joris Roosen, j.roosen@uu.nl. We are looking forward to meeting you.

Date: November 13th, 2018
Time: 10.00-12.00 – lunch will be provided.
Place: IOS-conference room, ground floor Institutions-building, Wittevrouwenstraat 7bis, Utrecht University

Masterclass with Monica Green – 13 November, Utrecht University

The masterclass will follow the lunch lecture by Professor Green which will take place between 10.00 and 12.00 on the same day. Masterclass participants will be invited to attend the lecture, lunch will be provided.

Date: November 13th, 2018
Time: 12.00-15.00
Place: IOS-conference room, ground floor Institutions-building, Wittevrouwenstraat 7bis, Utrecht University

Monica H. Green is Professor of History at Arizona State University. She specializes in medieval European medical history and the global history of infectious diseases. Among her recent works is (as editor) Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death and studies plague and other infectious diseases in Africa, the Indian Ocean world, and Eurasia. She has won prizes for both her teaching and her research. In 2018, she was awarded the prestigious CARA Award for Excellence in Teaching Medieval Studies by the Medieval Academy of America. You can follow her on Twitter @monicaMedHist.

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Lecture and Masterclass with Monica H. Green on Black Death

Lecture Monica Green, Arizona State University, 13 November 2018 in Utrecht

A New Story of the Black Death: The Latest Work on the Science and History of the World’s Largest Pandemic

Our understanding of the Black Death, the plague pandemic that ravaged Europe, the Middle East, and north Africa between 1346 and 1353, has been transformed in the last decade and a half because of new developments in genetics. Historians are now learning how to incorporate the findings from genetics into new narratives, ones that show that this largest of pandemics was even larger, and more widespread, than we ever imagined before. This talk will summarize the latest work in the field, and sketch out future directions of research.

Lunch lecture
This lecture is open to the public, but with regard to accommodation and lunch, we would like you to register with Joris Roosen, j.roosen@uu.nl. We are looking forward to meeting you.

Date: November 13th, 2018
Time: 10.00-12.00 – lunch will be provided.
Place: IOS-conference room, ground floor Institutions-building, Wittevrouwenstraat 7bis, Utrecht University

Masterclass with Monica Green – 13 November, Utrecht University

The masterclass will follow the lunch lecture by Professor Green which will take place between 10.00 and 12.00 on the same day. Masterclass participants will be invited to attend the lecture, lunch will be provided.

Date: November 13th, 2018
Time: 12.00-15.00
Place: IOS-conference room, ground floor Institutions-building, Wittevrouwenstraat 7bis, Utrecht University

Monica H. Green is Professor of History at Arizona State University. She specializes in medieval European medical history and the global history of infectious diseases. Among her recent works is (as editor) Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death and studies plague and other infectious diseases in Africa, the Indian Ocean world, and Eurasia. She has won prizes for both her teaching and her research. In 2018, she was awarded the prestigious CARA Award for Excellence in Teaching Medieval Studies by the Medieval Academy of America. You can follow her on Twitter @monicaMedHist.

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New Horizons in Premodern Public Health: An Interdisciplinary Workshop with Kathleen Davis

Thursday, 4 October, 13:00-16:00

Potgieterzaal, University Library (Singel 425)

During this workshop, members of the research team, in dialogue with Kathleen Davis, discuss various aspects of the Premodern Healthscaping research project.

Kathleen Davis is Professor of English and Medieval Studies at the University of Rhode Island. She has worked in the fields of Old and Middle English literature, translation studies, and postcolonial criticism. Most recently, her engagement with colonial histories and postcolonial theory led her to examine the periodizing process that gave us the categories of the “medieval” and the “modern,” and to investigate the relation of that process to colonial rule. She is the author of Periodization and Sovereignty: How Ideas of Feudalism and Secularization Govern the Politics of Time; and co-editor, with Nadia Altschul, of Medievalisms in the Postcolonial World: The Idea of “the Middle Ages” Outside Europe. Professor Davis has also worked on Old English literature and Old and Middle English translation, and is the author of Deconstruction and Translation.

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“From Periodization to the Autoimmune Secular State” – Kathleen Davis

Public lecture, organised by Premodern Healthscaping Research Project and Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis.

03 October 2018, 16:00-18:00.

Bushuis (Kloveniersburgwal 48), VOC room.

My main concern in this talk is the fundamental but often unrecognized work (political, legal, historical) that is accomplished by medieval/modern periodization. By medieval/modern periodization I mean the constitution of the period that we call “the Middle Ages” and its simultaneous distinction from the co-constituted “modern.” I will detail the scope and structure of this periodization and will argue, as I’ve done before, that the constitution of this Middle Ages operated as a space-clearing, exclusionary process that was fully enmeshed with the projects of colonialism. The interrelation of periodization and colonialism was crucial to the formation of academic disciplines and the categories they study, ultimately buttressing both the hegemony of the “modern” that has been so difficult to assail and the apparent undeniability of certain “early modern” events as foundational to politics as it is understood to operate today. It is very difficult to shake off a period concept such as “the Middle Ages” when the effects of its formation saturate every thread of one’s discipline.  I will also argue that the colonial legacy of this periodization fully inhabits the categories of the secular and sovereignty, as well as the intersection of these two, and that it is therefore implicated in the autoimmune process of the secular state, which I will address at the end of this talk.

Kathleen Davis is Professor of English and Medieval Studies at the University of Rhode Island. She has worked in the fields of Old and Middle English literature, translation studies, and postcolonial criticism. Most recently, her engagement with colonial histories and postcolonial theory led her to examine the periodizing process that gave us the categories of the “medieval” and the “modern,” and to investigate the relation of that process to colonial rule. She is the author of Periodization and Sovereignty: How Ideas of Feudalism and Secularization Govern the Politics of Time; and co-editor, with Nadia Altschul, of Medievalisms in the Postcolonial World: The Idea of “the Middle Ages” Outside Europe. Professor Davis has also worked on Old English literature and Old and Middle English translation, and is the author of Deconstruction and Translation.

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