History events at the IHR

With Very Much Ado: Age and Recovery from Illnessin Early Modern England, 1580-1720

19 March 2013, 17:15 - 19:15

Event Type: Seminar


Dr Hannah Newton (Wellcome Trust/St John's College, University of Cambridge)



The historiography of early modern medicine often makes depressing reading. It implies that people fell sick, took ineffective remedies, and died. My paper seeks to rebalance our picture of health at this time, by investigating understandings of recovery from illness. Drawing on sources such as diaries, doctors’ casebooks, and medical texts, it asks how physicians and laypeople defined and explained recovery, and examines the care of the recovering patient. What did people think was happening to the body during recovery? How was disease overcome?Throughout the paper, an underlying theme is the impact of age on the healing process. Children and the elderly were thought to possess certain qualities which both advantaged and disadvantaged them during recovery – these contradictory ideas are indicative of the wider ambivalences surrounding notions of age and ageing in the early modern period. Whilst scholars have devoted much attention to the impact of gender on ideas about disease and treatment, very little consideration has been shown towards age as a category.

Venue: Room 102 (Senate House, first floor)

Senate House
Malet Street 
London WC1E 7HU 

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Related Events: Life-Cycles History