澳门四不像论坛

CENTER FOR MEDIA, COMMUNICATION, AND GLOBAL CHANGE

Unraveling Plague Discourses: From Renaissance Europe to COVID-19

Home>News>

On October 19-20, 2023, the Center for Media, Communication, and Global Change of The American University of Paris, in collaboration with the Universit茅 C么te d鈥橝zur and the CNRS laboratory 鈥淏ases, Corpus, Langage鈥 (Nice), hosted the conference 鈥淒iscourses on the Plague (1347-1600): Authorities, Experience, and Experiments鈥.

The conference, organized by 澳门四不像论坛 professor Brenton Hobart (author of La Peste 脿 la Renaissance : L鈥檌maginaire d鈥檜n fl茅au dans la litt茅rature au XVIe si猫cle Classiques Garnier, 2020) and Universit茅 C么te d鈥橝zur professor V茅ronique Montagne (author of M茅decine et rh茅torique 脿 la Renaissance聽: Le cas du trait茅 de peste en langue vernaculaire, Classiques Garnier, 2017), 聽was one of several projects completed or currently being organized by the members of the scientific committee of the project HuMed. The proceedings to the conference are forthcoming with the French scholarly publisher Classiques Garnier. The members of the scientific committee were Violaine Giacomotto (Universit茅 Bordeaux Montaigne), Brenton Hobart (澳门四不像论坛), Magdalena Ko藕luk (Universit茅 of 艁贸d藕, Poland), V茅ronique Montagne (Universit茅 C么te d鈥橝zur), Caroline Petit (University of Warwick), Guylaine Pineau (Universit茅 de Pau), Isabelle Vedrenne (C么te d鈥橝zur), Val茅rie Worth-Stylianou (Trinity College, Oxford).

The conference explored how medical treatises, historical writings and literary narratives dealing with the plague use a common linguistic register which was recurrent from Antiquity to Renaissance Europe and which persists in today鈥檚 popular and scholarly imagination of how we envision epidemic disease, to demonstrate how Covid language and plague language are largely one and the same. The truth concerning disease is thereby molded, if not skewed, by a preconceived discourse, which the writers of such truth are (or feel) forced to revisit with the goal of 1) proving knowledge of and move beyond past diseases, or 2) establishing themselves as authoritative, or 3) transforming ineffable horror into an art form. To prove encyclopedic knowledge, medical authorities revisited literary and historical perspectives, and literary writers incorporated medical knowledge into their literature. Experiential, factual based discourse (鈥淚 sometimes witness X鈥) is thus subjugated to theoretical discourse (鈥淚 often read Y鈥), which is rehashed time and again because some long past authority happened to take note of it.

澳门四不像论坛 welcomed twenty scholars of the medical humanities from the international community including historians, historians of medicine and literature, linguists, and classicists. Discussions throughout the conference included the relative importance of theory, imitation, experience, and experimentation in treatises on the plague and in the literature of the High Renaissance, while considering them in light of the current global medical crisis. They also considered the opposition and exchanges between the humanist tradition and personal enquiry, i.e., the place of 鈥榟e鈥, 鈥榮he鈥, 鈥榦ne鈥 and 鈥業鈥 in these writings, together with the implied importance for empirical and subjective approaches, as well as the epistemological consequences of these choices by the authors of the treatises.

The following keynote addresses were delivered:聽

  • Sylvie Bazin聽(linguist, Universit茅 de Lorraine): inaugural presentation, surveying how we have historically named and conceptualized the plague
  • Jo毛l Coste聽(historian and rheumatologist, EPHE, Paris): reflections on how medical science has grappled with the multifaceted concept of the plague, or the multiple diseases categorized under the generic term plague
  • V茅ronique Boudon-Millot聽(classicist, CNRS, Sorbonne Universit茅): the longevity and influence of Johannes Camerarius鈥檚 Latin treatise De theriacis et mithridateis commentariolus听(1533)
  • Fran莽oise Hildesheimer聽(historian and archivist, Archives nationales): Jean d鈥橝ntrechaus鈥 personal experience as first consul of Toulon when the plague struck the city in 1721, or his re-reading of the final great Western-European pestilence

For the full conference program: click here.