CFP: [American] Medicine and Religion at ALA 5/2009; abstracts 1/28/09

full name / name of organization: 
Kelly Bezio
contact email: 

"The Physician and the Pastor: Doctors and Divines in the New England
Literary Tradition"


Although Cotton Mather remains iconic of the New England colonial world
and, in particular, the Puritan experience, he symbolizes also a hitherto
under-explored theme in the New England imagination: the intertwining
roles of physician and pastor. Mather’s assertion in The Angel of Bethesda
that illness is sin and medical cures should be sought in cleansing the
soul mark just one iteration of the confluence ministry and medicine. From
the assorted minister-physicians who abounded among the early New England
clergy to the sometimes terrifying but often comforting doctor figures of
late-nineteenth-century regional and realist fiction, the centuries-long
New England preoccupation with the health of the soul and the body has
resulted in an historical and imaginative preoccupation with the roles of
the minister and the doctor in society. This panel seeks to explore and
parse the interwoven roles of the pastor and the physician in the history
of New England from the colonial through the postbellum period.


Papers may address (but are not limited to) the following questions:


*how has a New England colonial linkage between ministry and medicine been
rehearsed and performed in 19th century fiction?

*what are the connections between ministry and medicine in the Puritan New
World? How are these connections maintained in 19th century mores and
burgeoning medical sciences as they are perceived and represented in New
England literature?

*how do 17th and 18th century intellectual discourses of the body and the
nature of sin connect the minister and the doctor in colonial and early
national New England?

* how does oceanic exchange integrate medicine and ministry in the New and
Old Worlds?

*what are the connections between and meanings produced by race, medicine,
and morality?

*in the postbellum period, how do discourses of evolution and social
darwinism change the meaning and connotation of "sin" and help to
transform the roles of the doctor and the divine?

*how do women negotiate their changing roles in 19C society in order to
carve out places for themselves in the traditionally masculine fields of
ministry and medicine?


Transhistorical, transatlantic, and comparative perspectives are
particularly encouraged.

Please contact Kelly Bezio ( or Ashley Reed
( with 300-500 word abstracts no later than midnight
January 28th, 2009.

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Received on Wed Jan 07 2009 - 15:25:16 EST