Premodern Public Health: The End of an Oxymoron?

GUY GELTNER RETURNS TO MONASH TO PRESENT HIS ONGOING WORK ON PREMODERN PUBLIC HEALTH.

This lecture challenges a common understanding of public health as a by-product of modernity by looking at how urban communities in Italy fought disease and promoted health in the Middle Ages. Italy was, by far, the most urbanised region of premodern Europe. It was here, rather than in the Industrial Revolution of the later eighteenth century, that Europeans began to fathom, on a large scale, the challenges facing cities and developed diverse paths to preventing metropolises from becoming necropolises. Increasingly aware of the dangers urban life entailed, numerous communities since at least the twelfth century sought to prevent and reduce them, working within a unique paradigm of health. They thus did so without having to react to the second plague pandemic (“Black Death”) of the mid fourteenth century, let alone wait for modern biomedicine, advanced technology, representative governments or nation states. Tracing the centrality of health and its political underpinning in earlier times strains an accepted pre/modern divide from a new historiographical perspective, with major implications for the idea of the Middle Ages in an allegedly postcolonial world.

Guy Geltner (PhD Princeton, 2006) is professor of medieval history, and co-founder and former director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Amsterdam. He studies the social, urban and religious history of later medieval Europe, predominantly as it has been captured by the rich archives of the Italian city states, and also writes more broadly on the history of crime and punishment. He has held visiting appointments and fellowships at Oxford University, Monash University, Birkbeck College, London, Stanford University’s Humanities Center and Harvard University’s Villa I Tatti. He returns to Monash to participate in several events and present his ongoing work on premodern public health.

Professor Geltner is a member of the Prato Consortium for medieval and Renaissance Studies. He is currently visiting scholar in the Arts ‘body in the city, 1100-1800’ Focus Program.

DATE

Wednesday  18 April, 2018

TIME

Public Lecture

Registration

5.30pm – 6.00pm

Lecture

6.00pm – 7.00pm

Drinks and Nibbles

7.00pm – 8.00pm

VENUE

H1.16, Level One , Building H, Monash University

Caulfield campus

900 Dandenong Road

Caulfield east

Vic

3145

COST

Free

Registration is required