Books and Bodies in Early Modern England - RSA 2019

deadline for submissions: 
July 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Jillian Linster (University of South Dakota) and Harry Newman (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Books and Bodies in Early Modern England

Organizers: Jillian Linster (University of South Dakota) and Harry Newman (Royal Holloway, University of London)

For a proposed panel at RSA 2019 (Toronto, March 17-19)

This panel investigates links between literary and medical culture in early modern England (c. 1500-1700), focusing on the intersections of book history and medical humanities. Scholarship has started to address the physiology of reading, the role of the book trade in disseminating and shaping medical knowledge, and the mutually influential relationship between literary and medical texts. Building on this work, we seek papers focused on the physical and conceptual relationships between books and bodies in early modernity. Papers might consider the following:

  • How did changing technologies, laws, reading habits, and/or the rise of print culture affect the interaction of bodies and books in this period?
  • How did specific books come to represent individual people, and vice versa?
  • How were the bodies of books shaped and reshaped by physical encounters with human bodies (e.g. printers, book binders, readers)?
  • Does the relationship between books and bodies help us to understand power and agency in early modernity?
  • Why is it important to investigate the material lives and textual histories of medical books (anatomical works, midwifery manuals, dietaries, casebooks, herbals, medical receipt books, etc.)?
  • How is the relationship between books and bodies depicted in literary works, artistic renderings, and historical documents from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries?
  • How useful are distinctions between ‘literary’ and ‘medical’ texts when considering the book-body relationship?
  • What was the influence of other cultures (European or non-Western) on English perceptions of books and bodies?

Approaches might include or combine book history, medical humanities, ecocriticism, new materialism, sociological or anthropological theory, social and cultural history, and biblical studies. Non-traditional or experimental lines of inquiry are encouraged. Proposals are welcome from scholars working in any discipline.

Please submit your paper proposal by 15th July 2018, to Jillian Linster and Harry Newman at booksandbodies.panel@gmail.com. The proposal should include the following information in a single document:

  • Name, affiliation and email address
  • Paper title (15 words max)
  • Abstract (150 words max)
  • Keywords
  • One-page CV (300 words max)