Disease & Ease, 1500-1800

Event Details

  • Event date: 03/07/2019 – 04/07/2019
  • Venue: University of Reading
  • CFP Deadline: 01/02/2019

‘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 asks what exactly illness and health felt like for early modern 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’.


We are excited to announce two keynote speakers, Professor Michael Stolberg (University of Würzburg), a world-leading scholar of early modern experiences sickness and death, and Dr Sasha Handley (University of Manchester), who is at the forefront of research on wellbeing and health, with a focus on the material culture of sleep. Our conference will conclude with a compelling roundtable discussion on how experiences of health and illness have changed over time; discussants include expert patient and Ambassador for the MS Society and ADD International, Trishna Bharadia, philosopher of illness at the University of Bristol, Professor Havi Carel, and general practitioner Dr John Jitan.


Those wishing to present a paper should send the following information in one word document to Hannah Newton and Amie Bolissian Mcrae at disease&ease@google.com by 1 February 2019: • Your name and a short biog or 1-page CV • Paper title • c.250-word abstract. If you would prefer to organise a three-paper panel, please send one document containing all three sets of information outlined above, plus an overall panel title, summary of the panel’s themes, and the chair’s name. Bursaries are available for a limited number of postgraduate students and sessional or unwaged ECRs; please indicate if you would like to be considered for a bursary.


For more information about the conference, please see: http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/irhs/call-for-papers-disease-ease-1500-1800/


Our thanks to the Wellcome Trust for generously funding this event.