Thursday, September 2, 2021

CFP for Kalamazoo 2022


Medica: The Society for the Study of Healing in the Middle Ages is seeking paper proposals for sessions to be held at the
57th International Congress on Medieval Studies hosted by Western Michigan University's Medieval Institute. Due to continued pandemic scheduling challenges, the 57th ICMS will be live on the internet Monday through Saturday, May 9-14, 2022. Medica aims to bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars (historians, archaeologists, art historians, literary scholars, paleopathologists, etc.) focusing on health and healing in the Middle Ages.


Medica seeks proposals for the following sessions:


1)   The ‘New Paradigm’ of Plague Studies: Expanded Geographies and Chronologies of the Medieval Pandemics


DESCRIPTION: In 2014, Monica Green wrote “the field of historical plague studies … must be redefined in three dimensions: its geographic extent, its chronological extent, and the methodological registers we use to investigate it.” Since then, work on the full extent of both the 1st and 2nd Plague Pandemics has continued as Green anticipated, now encompassing the Mongol Empire (and perhaps the Xiongnu before them) and extending, perhaps, into sub-Saharan Africa. Whereas prior scholarship focused on the Mediterranean and Europe, pandemic studies must necessarily cast a wider net. This panel invites presentations of the latest work in the field.


METHOD: This panel is grounded on the fact that the history of plague (and other infectious diseases) is now being written not only by traditional historical methods (interrogation of written records), but also by scientific techniques that reconstruct the history of both the pathogens and the human beings afflicted by them. The sciences are important because they can push beyond both the geographic and chronological limits of written sources and help us reconstruct the lives and health circumstances of populations otherwise unrecorded. How many more millions of stories are yet to be told?


2)   The Globalization of Medieval Medicine: Ideas, Authorities, and Products 1000-1600


DESCRIPTION: This panel explores the globalization of medieval medicine, beginning in the eleventh century via the Silk Road and continuing through the early modern era of exploration and discovery.  It will look at how medieval European medical practice and theory changed due to the influx of new ideas, practices, and pharmaceutical products.  Panelists will also consider how medical consumerism and the transmission of ideas were affected by economic, religious, cultural, political, and technological changes, such as the advent of printed medical texts and the popularization of medical authorities outside of the ancient canon.


METHOD: Inspired by ReOrienting Histories of Medicine: Encounters along the Silk Roads (Bloomsbury, 2021), this panel would offer new voices and research that would expand how we think about medieval medicine. This panel would look at the practice of medieval medicine from a global perspective, to view global exchanges of people, ideas, and products that shaped medical ideas and practices. Starting in the eleventh century via the Silk Road and through the early modern period, medieval European medical ideas, once founded on ancient authorities, was transformed by contact with people, products and ideas from outside the continent. This paper session is focused on considering ways in which scholars can study the global Middle Ages. Scholarly approaches that de-center European narratives are greatly valued.


3)   ROUNDTABLE: Pharmacy, Pfizer, and the Pandemic: Finding Community in Tradition and Science


DESCRIPTION: In December 2020, newspapers throughout the world carried images and video feeds of trucks rolling out of the Kalamazoo warehouses of the drug manufacturer, Pfizer, carrying the first doses of the recently approved COVID-19 vaccine to hospitals and distribution centers across the United States. Pfizer is a neighbor of the ICMS, and just as Western Michigan University is located on lands that have been historically occupied by the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Bodewadmi nations, so this roundtable takes the opportunity of the 2022 meeting to explore the traditional ties between communities and provisioners of life-saving or life-enhancing pharmaceutics.


METHOD: This panel continues the Medica Society’s focus on our current experience of the modern pandemic and the ways it has allowed us to reflect in new ways on the experience of the past. By coincidence, one of the key players in the vaccine interventions that turned the tide on the COVID-19 pandemic is located right in Kalamazoo: Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. The technological innovations of mRNA vaccines may seem light years removed from the natural substances. This roundtable will invite medievalist scholars and members of the Kalamazoo community that hosts the Congress every year to reflect on the material basis of healing shared the world over: the collective knowledge of substances with pharmaceutical properties, whether natural or manufactured, to provide aid and comfort. Participants will be encouraged to draw on both their expert knowledge in their fields, but also their personal experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shaped the lives of everyone the world over.


If interested, please submit an abstract of roughly 250-300 words along with a Participant Information Form (PIF), which can be found at All proposal materials are due by September 15, 2021.

If you have questions about either of the sessions, or would like to submit an abstract, please direct emails to Harry York at




Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Medica at Kalamazoo 2020

We're happy to announce Medica's sessions for the 55th International Congress on Medieval Studies, which will be held in Kalamazoo, Michigan from May 7-10, 2020.

1) Healing and the Healer in Medieval Popular Culture

Laine E. Doggett, “Popular Medicine in Rutebeuf’s “Le Dit de l’herberie”: Weighing Salescraft and Healing Knowledge in Selling Remedies”

Hannah Lloyd, “‘To Your Health!’: Examining the Influence of Medical Knowledge on Fourteenth-Century English Cuisine”

Helga Ruppe, “Sir Knight, Heal Thyself; Healing Among Knights Errant in Some Early Grail Narratives”

Rachel Podd, “’She is said to be a Diviner”: Recovering Empirical Medical Practice in the Fourteenth Century Catalonian Pastoral Visitations”

2) Desire and Disease: The Medicalization of Sex in the Middle Ages

Nichola Harris, “Fertility and Faithlessness: Medieval Aphrodisiacs Repurposed as Treatments for Venereal Diseases in Early Modern England”

Minji Lee, “Sex is not the Treatment for Every Woman: Hildegard of Bingen’s Temperament Theory regarding Women’s Sexual Life”

Danijela Zutic, “Sex, holes and late medieval Regimen Sanitatis book”

3) New Ways to Teach Medieval Medicine (a roundtable)

Lee Mordechai, “The Justinianic Plague app as a resource for teaching and research”

Nükhet Varlik, “Black Death Digital Archive: A Multidisciplinary Database of the Second Plague Pandemic”

Winston Black, “Choosing and Using Medieval Medicine Primary Sources”

Lori Jones, “Imaging Medieval Medicine in the Classroom”

Lucy C. Barnhouse, “"But Did They Know What They Were Doing?" Medieval Medicine in the Undergraduate Classroom”

We are also co-sponsoring, with Beneventan Studies, a session on "Medieval Interdisciplinarity: Knowledge-Transfer in Medieval Southern Italy II: Medicine and Sciences:"

Jeffrey Doolitte,"Establishing a Space for Medicine at Montecassino: Hildemar of Corbie's Expositio of the Rule of St. Benedict (Montecassino, Arch. dell'Abbazia, Cod. 175)"

F. Eliza Glaze,  "Salerno and the Articella in the 12th Century: Problems and Prospects"

Francis Newton, "Medicine, Rhetoric, Theological Debate: Scribes and their Personal Dossiers in the Production of Aberdeen MS 106"

Finally, we'll be holding our annual business meeting at noon on Thursday and a reception on Friday evening. Please join us for both, if you're able! More details will follow closer to the event.

Friday, August 23, 2019

CFP for Medica sessions at ICMS in Kalamazoo 2020

Medica is seeking paper proposals for two sessions to be held at the 55th International Congress on Medieval Studies, which will be held in Kalamazoo, Michigan from May 7-10, 2020.

1) Healing and the Healer in Medieval Popular Culture 
DESCRIPTION: This session seeks to explore the perceptions and understandings of health maintenance, disease prevention and treatment, medical practitioners, etc., in the practices of healers outside the university sphere in the Middle Ages. The practices of women healers, religious-based healers, practitioners of folk medicine, healing saints, and other empirically-trained doctors would be ideal topics of analysis for this session. Possible papers could examine sources like household recipe books, legal regulations of medical practice, depictions of healing in popular literature, artistic representations of healers, or similar sources.

2) Desire and Disease: The Medicalization of Sex in the Middle Ages 
DESCRIPTION: This session is open to investigations of sexuality and medicine in the Middle Ages. This might include papers on sexually transmitted diseases, sexual dysfunction, methods to increase/inhibit sexual desire, or treatments to test for or enhance fertility. Other topics could include perceptions of how emotions of desire might affect an individual’s health, or concerns for how the body shapes desire in various ways. 

If interested, please submit an abstract of roughly 250-300 words along with a Participant Information Form (PIF), which can be found at Any graduate student who has a paper accepted will be eligible to apply for Medica's Travel Award of $100 to help expenses. All proposal materials are due by September 15, 2019. If you have questions about either of the sessions, or would like to submit an abstract, please direct emails to Harry York at

Medica is also organizing a roundtable on teaching the history of medicine in the Middle Ages: New Ways to Teach Medieval Medicine
DESCRIPTION:  This roundtable brings together scholars who will explore new tools and methods for teaching medieval medicine. The tools and ideas presented here are intended for anyone who might wish to include a module on health and disease in a broader course on the Middle Ages, not only for those seeking to teach courses focused on medieval medicine. Some speakers will examine various new digital technologies available for use in classroom settings. Others will consider the ways in which the history of medicine might be taught in the broader context of the global Middle Ages.

Finally, we are also co-sponsoring a session with Beneventan Studies:

TITLE: Medieval Interdisciplinarity: Knowledge-Transfer in Medieval Southern Italy II: Medicine and Sciences
DESCRIPTION: The importance of Montecassino and the Beneventan Zone in the history of the transmission of the classics for the trivium has long been recognized. Only recently has the pivotal role of the Zone for the history of the collection, translation, transmission and dissemination of scientific works come to the fore. The two sessions build on new/forthcoming publications on key Southern Italian manuscript witnesses of this transfer asks how knowledge transfer (particular of works of the quadrivium and medical sciences) occurred (into, within, and from the Zone), and what was the relationship between innovative learning across the sciences. Session II focuses new scholarship on medical and scientific learning.

For more information about this session, or to submit a proposal, please contact Andrew J. M. Irving at

Monday, April 15, 2019

Medica is pleased to sponsor two sessions at the 54th International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, Michigan (May 9-12, 2019)

Leprosy in the City: Medical, Charitable, and Regulatory Responses to Leprosy in the Middle Ages
Thursday, May 9 at 1:30pm in Schneider 1120

Chiara Giancoli, “Medical, Charitable, and Regulatory Responses to Leprosy in Two of the Catholic Homilies by Ælfric of Eynsham”

Rebecca Hall, “The Impact of Cross Religious Contact on Leprosy Sufferers in the Crusader Kingdoms”

Anna M. Peterson, “‘Let these institutions be governed by prudent suitable men of good repute’: Leprosaria and Accountability in the Medieval West (ca. 1200–1342)

Aleksandra N. Pfau, “Lepers in the Streets: Movement of Lepers in Fourteenth- and Fifteenth-Century France”

Women Healers in Medieval Family and Community Life
Thursday, May 9 at 3:30pm in Schneider 1160

Ruth Dwyer, “Theodora and the Mystery of Justinian’s Cure, Solved

Nichola Harris, “Hildegard’s Heterodoxy: Sources and the Application of Lapidary Knowledge in Physica “

The Medica Business Meeting will be held on Thursday, May 9, from 12:00-12:45 in Bernhard 157/158. Bring lunch and help plan future sessions.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

CFP for Kalamazoo, May 9-12, 2019

Medica will be sponsoring two sessions at the 54th International Congress on Medieval Studies, which will be held in Kalamazoo, Michigan from May 9-12, 2019. 

1) Leprosy in the City: Medical, Charitable, and Regulatory Responses to Leprosy in the Middle Ages
This session invites papers that explore the multifaceted approaches and responses to leprosy and leprosy sufferers in the Middle Ages. Leprosy occupied a unique place in the medieval world and was simultaneously viewed and understood in medical, legal, social, and religious terms. Papers in this session could explore different types of approaches or responses to the disease including those of learned medical practitioners, local healers, religious figures, and the cities themselves. Papers that consider questions about medical treatments, institutions, or other related topics concerning medieval leprosy are also welcomed. 

2) Women Healers in Medieval Family and Community Life
Both historical and fictional, textual and artistic representations portray medieval women performing a customary domestic responsibility, treating illness and injury among their family and neighbors. This session seeks papers that enlarge typical characterizations by offering insight into the contributions and practices of female healers as they functioned in the day-day reality of medieval life. Not limited to midwifery, the health care activities of medieval laywomen, noblewomen, and religious women included surgery and bloodletting, therapeutic treatments, herbalism, practical nursing, and disposal of the dead. Paper proposals are invited that examine training, treatments, historical records, legal status, and individual figures, both professional and non-professional. In addition, papers are encouraged to examine the textual and empirical sources of information employed by medieval female healers, such as botanicals, late medieval self-help texts, medical texts and teaching manuals, traditional home recipe texts, native intelligence, and apprenticeships. As in the past, Medica encourages interdisciplinary perspectives that explore medieval female health care providers across the cultural spectrum of history, literature, and art.

If interested, please submit an abstract of roughly 250-300 words along with a Participant Information Form (PIF), which can be found at All proposal materials are due by September 15, 2017.

If you have questions about either of the sessions, or would like to submit an abstract, please direct emails to Harry York at

Monday, March 19, 2018

Medica at Kalamazoo, 10-13 May 2018

Medica is pleased to announce the two sessions we will be hosting at Kalamazoo this year.

Medicine in Cities: Public Health and Medical Professions
Friday, May 11, 1:30–3:00 p.m.
267 BERNHARD 212

Abigail Agresta, "Minds in the Gutter: Plague, Sin, and Blame in Late Medieval Valencia"

Courtney A. Krolikoski, "Leprosy and Society in Medieval Bologna, 1100–1350"

Matteo Pace, "“Per Modum Radicis”: Cultural Webs between Physicians and Poets in Duecento Bologna"

Petros Bouras-Vallianatos, "Pharmacy and Health Care in Late Byzantine Constantinople"

Military Medicine: Wounds and Disease in Warfare
Friday, May 11, 3:30-5:00 p.m.
324 BERNHARD 212

Theodore Cunningham, "Early Use of Medical Triage in the Saga of Saint Olaf"

Leigh Whaley, "Controversial Wound Treatment by Three Medieval Surgeons: Hugh of Lucca, Theodoric of Cervia, and Henry of Mondeville"

Nicole Archambeau, "Plague and Great Company of 1361"

Medica Reception!
Friday, May 11, 5:15 p.m., BERNHARD 212

All are welcome! Reception with cash bar.

Medica Business Meeting

Thursday, May 12, 12:00-12:45, BERNHARD 215

All are welcome! We will be planning future sessions for Medica. Bring your lunch and join the discussion!

See you all in Kalamazoo! 


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Medica at Kalamazoo 2017

Medica once again has a full schedule of events at Kalamazoo. We have two sponsored sessions and another session that we are co-sponsoring. Here is the schedule:

Session 41: Thursday, May 11 at 10:00 in Sangren 1710 
Medieval Tools (A Roundtable) 

Sponsor: AVISTA: The Association Villard de Honnecourt for the Interdisciplinary Study of Medieval Technology, Science, and Art; DISTAFF (Discussion, Interpretation, and Study of Textile Arts, Fabrics, and Fashion); EXARC; Medica: The Society for the Study of Healing in the Middle Ages; Research Group on Manuscript Evidence; Societas Magica

Organizer: Sarah Thompson, Rochester Institute of Technology

Presider: Sean M. Winslow, Univ. of Toronto

A roundtable discussion with Constance H. Berman, Univ. of Iowa; Carla Tilghman, Washburn Univ.; Frank Klaassen, Univ. of Saskatchewan; Linda Ehrsam Voigts, Univ. of Missouri–Kansas City; and Darrell Markewitz, Wareham Forge. 

Linda Voigts is representing Medica and will be speaking about "Equipment for Household Distillation for Medical (and other?) Uses"

Session 501: Sunday, May 14 at 8:30 in Fetzer 1010 

The Practical Medicine of Medieval Surgeons and Physicians

Presider: William H. York, Portland State University

Beth Petitjean, St. Louis Univ., "Mineral Water Treatments in Late Medieval Italy"

Kira L. Robison, Univ. of Tennessee–Chattanooga, "The Propriety of Practical Medicine"

Helga Ruppe, Western Univ., "Hildegard’s Healing Landscape"

Session 540: Sunday, May 14 at 10:30 in Fetzer 1010

Materia Medica: Plants, Animals, and Minerals in Healing 

Presider: Linda Ehrsam Voigts, Univ. of Missouri–Kansas City 

Claire Burridge, Univ. of Cambridge, "Origins and Ingredients: A Comparison of Early Medieval Remedies"

Arsenio Ferraces-Rodríguez, Univ. da Coruña, "The Use of the Mandrake in the Early Middle Ages for the Gout, for the Conception, and as an Anesthetic"

In addition to our sessions we will also be holding our annual business meeting and hosting a reception, both of which all are welcome (encouraged!) to attend. 

Business Meeting: Thursday, May 11 at noon in Bernhard 213

Reception with cash bar: Friday, May 12 at 5:15 in Fetzer 2030

We look forward to seeing you all there!