ACMRS Seminar on “Health and Disease in the Middle Ages”

Applications are being sought for a five-week Seminar for College and University Teachers—“Health and Disease in the Middle Ages”—which is being held 24 June through 28 July 2012, in London, UK. Part of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Seminars and Institutes program, the Seminar is sponsored by the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS) and will convene at the Wellcome Library, the world’s premier research centre for medical history.  This Seminar will gather together sixteen scholars (including up to two advanced graduate students) from across the disciplines interested in questions of health, disease, and disability in medieval Europe and the Mediterranean.

A primary goal is to explore how the scientific technologies of assessing disease prevalence andidentifying pathogens (particularly leprosy and plague) can inform traditional, humanistic methods (historical, literary, art historical, and linguistic) of investigating cultural responses to disease and disability. The Seminar also explores how humanistic studies of medieval medicine can inform modern scientific studies of historical diseases, which are developing at a rapid pace thanks to new methods in palaeopathology and ancient DNA (aDNA) retrieval and analysis. Our goal is not simply to foster dialogue among the disciplines regarding the intersections of religion, economics, and medicine in the medieval interpretation and treatment of disease, but also to provide a historical basis for understanding crises in global health today.

The two co-Directors, Monica Green and Rachel Scott, are specialists in the fields of medical history and bioarchaeology, respectively, and they will be aided by three guest lecturers who bring additional perspectives to interdisciplinary dialogue. Drawing on these multiple areas of expertise, the Seminar advocates studying the material evidence for disease and health-seeking behaviours alongside learned and artistic interpretations. Special emphasis is placed on assisting participants with their independent research projects relating to the History of Medicine, especially those based on unpublished primary sources.

The ideal participant for this Seminar will be a faculty member at a university or college, or an advanced graduate student, working in the humanities, social sciences, or natural sciences with an interest in research on medieval medicine.  The NEH requires that applicants be United States citizens, residents of US jurisdictions, or foreign nationals who have been residing in the United States or its territories for the last three years.  The Seminar is designed for those with no prior background in medical history and does not presuppose any advanced training in the biological sciences.  Scholars working on any aspect of medieval Europe or the Mediterranean, and in any discipline, are encouraged to apply.  Also, because our understanding of Europe will be expanded by thinking comparatively, scholars with expertise in other premodern cultures (e.g., pre-Columbian Americas or China) are encouraged to apply.

The sixteen selected participants will receive a stipend for the five-week Seminar of $3900, to cover airfare, housing costs, and other expenses.  Housing has been prearranged at University College London.

Admission is competitive.  The application process has two parts:

Part 1 – submitted directly to NEH:  Fill out the initial application form online at the NEH website:  This part is for the NEH’s internal records and is the necessary first step of processing your file.  Please print it out since a copy of the form also needs to be included in Part 2.

Part 2 – submitted directly to the Seminar Directors, c/o ACMRS (at the e-mail or snail-mail address below):  The rest of the application materials consist of a copy of the NEH cover page, a curriculum vitae, a brief essay explaining your interest in the Seminar, and two letters of recommendation.

For further information (including a detailed description of the program and the syllabus), please go to the Seminar website:

Or write to us or call at:
Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS)
4th Floor, Lattie F. Coor Hall
Arizona State University
P.O. Box 874402 Tempe, AZ 85287-4402

Phone:  +1 (480) 965-4661

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