Department Research Seminar - Tuesday 28 February

HST Jessop West UoS

Event details

Tuesday 28 February 2023


You are warmly invited to our department research seminar: 

Tuesday 28 February, 4:15pm (GMT)

'Pandemic, Wisdom, and the Medicalisation of Religious Cultures c. 540-750'

Speaker: James Palmer (University of St Andrews)

All are welcome!


There has been recent furious debate over the impact of the Justinianic Pandemic – the series of outbreaks of bubonic plague that erupted between the sixth and eighth centuries. The present paper examines discussion of plague in relation to how Gregory of Tours (d. 594), Isidore of Seville (d. 646) and Bede (d. 735) approached intersections of medicine, science, and apocalyptic theology. It is argued that, far from retreating to an ‘instinctive’ eschatology when confronted with widespread devastation, successive generations carefully built up profiles of disease and its contexts so that it was possible in principle to distinguish between portent and disaster rooted in nature. This reveals an underappreciated curiosity in the workings of the natural world in late antique and early medieval religious cultures.


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