Objects, Images, and Spaces of Health

This group provides a forum for scholarly work on the premodern period that connects histories of science, technology, and health, with histories of art, visual culture, and material culture. In order to ensure a broad range of approaches and opinions within the working group, its key terms will be broadly defined in all respects: we see "premodernity" stretching backwards from the seventeenth century to antiquity; "health" as incorporating global histories of both institutional medicine and more vernacular practices and personnel of healing; and "visual and material culture" ranging from the built environment to the smaller-scale world of images, diagrams, tools, and other technical objects.

The goal of the working group is to focus on collaborating over problems, not on polished papers. Monthly 90-minute virtual discussions focus on a pre-circulated piece of writing: book chapters, articles, position pieces, book proposals, or any other format. After a brief 5-minute introduction by the author and 10-minute commentary by a designated respondent, the rest of the session focuses on questions, discussion, and debate. We will also use this group as an opportunity to collaborate over resources, hosting a shared Google drive or similar to pool both historical, visual, and scholarly materials of relevance to group members.


Please set your timezone at https://www.chstm.org/user

Consortium Respectful Behavior Policy

Participants at Consortium activities will treat each other with respect and consideration to create a collegial, inclusive, and professional environment that is free from any form of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.

Participants will avoid any inappropriate actions or statements based on individual characteristics such as age, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, nationality, political affiliation, ability status, educational background, or any other characteristic protected by law. Disruptive or harassing behavior of any kind will not be tolerated. Harassment includes but is not limited to inappropriate or intimidating behavior and language, unwelcome jokes or comments, unwanted touching or attention, offensive images, photography without permission, and stalking.

Participants may send reports or concerns about violations of this policy to conduct@chstm.org.

Upcoming Meetings

  • Friday, June 9, 2023 11:00 am to 12:30 pm EDT

    "Who Is a Maker? Artisan Knowledge in Medieval India."
    Eric Gurevitch (Vanderbilt)
    Response: Tillmann Taape (Herzog August Biliothek)

  • Friday, September 8, 2023 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm EDT

    *Note Special Time*
    "Figuring Racial Difference in Early Nineteenth-Century France"
    Stephanie O'Rourke (St Andrews)
    Response: Suman Seth (Cornell)

  • Friday, October 13, 2023 11:00 am to 12:30 pm EDT

    "'The Männel is a root, it should be called an Allraune': A Mandrake, Magic, and Money in Seventeenth-Century Saxony"
    Tara Nummedal (Brown)
    Response: Alisha Rankin (Tufts)

  • Friday, November 10, 2023 11:00 am to 12:30 pm EST

    "Marginal Recipes, Major Insights: Exploring the Manuscript Contexts of Early Medieval Medical Knowledge"
    Claire Burridge (Sheffield)
    Response: tbc

  • Friday, December 8, 2023 11:00 am to 12:30 pm EST

    "Anatomy and the Early Académie Royale des Sciences"
    Katherine Reinhart (Binghamton)
    Response: tbc

Past Meetings

  • May 12, 2023

    "Aromatic Medicines and Divine Scents in Women's Medicine"
    Wee-Siang Margaret Ng (College of Wooster)
    Response: Jack Hartnell (UEA)

  • April 14, 2023

    "Can Mixtures Be Identified by Touch? The Reception of Galen’s De complexionibus in Italian Renaissance Medicine"
    Viktoria von Hoffmann (FNRS / Liège)
    Response: Anita Guerrini (Oregon State)

  • March 10, 2023

    “Cutting the Body: Jacopo Berengario da Carpi and the Anatomical Woodcut”
    Ariella Minden (Toronto / Bibliotheca Hertziana - Max Planck Institute for Art History)
    Response: Taylor McCall (Medieval Academy) 

  • February 10, 2023

    Epistemic Images: A Discussion
    With Sietske Fransen (Bibliotheca Hertziana - Max Planck Institute for Art History)
    Response: Alicia Petersen (Yale)... and all OISH Members

  • December 9, 2022

    Meredith Gamer (Columbia University)
    “Bodies of Instruction"
    Comment by Mary Fissell (John Hopkins University)

  • November 11, 2022

    Ben Breen (University of California, Santa Cruz)
    "Colonial Magic and Contested Spaces of Healing in the Seventeenth Century Indian Ocean and Atlantic Worlds"
    Comment by Philippa Carter (University of Cambridge)

  • October 14, 2022

    Lavinia Maddaluno (Ca’ Foscari, University of Venice)
    “Practicing Public Health in Early Modern Milan: Air, Water, Rice”
    Comment by Valentina Pugliano (MIT)

  • June 10, 2022

    Yan Liu (University at Buffalo, SUNY)
    “Scent from Afar: A Transcultural History of Aromatics in Medieval China”
    Comment by William Tullett (Anglia Ruskin University)

  • May 13, 2022

     Taylor McCall (Medieval Academy of America)
    “Picturing the Dissected Female Body in Manuscripts c.1200-1500"
    Comment by Robert Allen Shotwell (Ivy Tech Community College)

  • April 8, 2022


Group Conveners

  • jackhartnell's picture

    Jack Hartnell

    Jack Hartnell is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of East Anglia, UK, where his research and teaching focus on the visual culture of late medieval and early renaissance medicine, cartography, and mathematics. In 2019–20 he was the Dibner Fellow in the History of Science and Technology at the Huntington Library in California. Before starting at UEA in 2017 he held positions at Columbia University, The Courtauld Institute of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte in Berlin. He is the author of Medieval Bodies (Wellcome, 2018) and has a forthcoming book provisionally entitled Wound Man: The Many Lives of a Medieval Surgical Image.


  • ElaineLeong's picture

    Elaine Leong

    Elaine Leong is Lecturer in History at University College London, UK. She is the author of Recipes and Everyday Knowledge: Medicine, Science and the Household in Early Modern England and co-editor of Secrets and Knowledge in Medicine and Science 1500-1800 (Ashgate, 2011), Working with Paper: Gendered Practices in the History of Knowledge (Pittsburgh, 2019) and the Cultural History of Medicine in the Renaissance (Bloomsbury, 2021). She serves as co-editor of Osiris and the Social Histories of Medicine book series at Manchester University Press. Her current projects include a book-length project provisionally titled Reading Riviére in Early Modern England and “Technologies of Health c. 1450-1750” which is funded by a Wellcome Trust University Award


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