Archives par mot-clé : Black Death

Conference – Cherry-Picking or Consilience? Human Actors, Invisible Microbes, and (Non-)collaboration in Disease History – Monica H. Green – AHA conference

Session : Historians and Geneticists in Collaborative Research

AHA Session 254
Saturday, January 7, 2017: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Mile High Ballroom 3A (Colorado Convention Center, Ballroom Level) Denver.
John R. McNeill, Georgetown University

Session Abstract:

An editorial in Nature (25 May 2016) notes that historians have been critical of recent interpretations of European migrations by geneticists, but from their armchairs. Princeton Medieval historian Patrick Geary is quoted as urging historians to be more proactive and take part in genetic research: “If historians do not get involved and engage with this technology seriously, we’re going to see more and more studies that are done by geneticists with very little input from historians, or from frankly second-rate historians.” This session includes presentations by two historians and one geneticist, to show how collaborative study linking historians and geneticists can advance the quality of historical studies relying on genetic information. The session is intended to encourage discussion among historians, especially early-career historians, on how involvement in research and study of the genetic-historical literature can lead to rewarding careers that substantially advance knowledge of the human past from this new angle.

Cherry-Picking or Consilience? Human Actors, Invisible Microbes, and (Non-)collaboration in Disease History

Saturday, January 7, 2017: 3:50 PM, Mile High Ballroom 3A (Colorado Convention Center)

Monica H. Green, Arizona State University

Every pre-modern historian knows how rarely we have all the evidence we want. We know that something happened in history’s silences because we know that human societies persisted. So, too, the palaeogeneticist must assume the continuity of life between the few random molecular fossils uncovered from the past, for that is the basic premise of evolutionary theory. But in all fields that deal with gap-ridden evidence, the question remains: what are legitimate methods for construing what happened in those gaps?Although climate scientists and historians now work toward consilience of written and physical data, that happy détente has yet to be achieved in biological history. Yes, the call to resist “cherry picking those milestones in human history that are best recorded” should be heeded. But what happens when this new kind of bioarchaeology treads into territory historians consider theirs, where there are written records? Who cedes to whom?

This paper will focus not on human genetics but on the molecular histories of the pathogens that kill and maim us. I will use the example of the Second Plague Pandemic (14th-19th centuries) to assert that consilience with History, with a capital ‘H’, is urgently needed for one simple reason: because the most disruptive biological actors in epidemic circumstances are humans themselves.

More information on the AHA program !

Call for Papers – ‘For I am a woman, ignorant, weak and frail’: Feminising Death, Disability and Disease in the later Middle Ages – IMC Leeds

‘For I am a woman, ignorant, weak and frail’: Feminising Death, Disability and Disease in the later Middle Ages

International Medieval Congress University of Leeds 3rd – 6th July 2017

Conference Details

The International Medieval Congress is the largest interdisciplinary medieval conference of its kind – attracting over 2,200 attendees from over 50 countries, and boasting approximately 1,700 individual papers within 580 academic sessions. Every year, the IMC chooses a special thematic strand which, for 2017, is ‘Otherness’. This focus has been chosen for its wide application across all centuries and regions and its impact on all disciplines devoted to this epoch. For further information on the Congress, see: 

Session Details

**Should this session attract enough interest it will become a three-part series, with each session focussing more deeply on the individual themes of death, disability and disease. Within late-medieval society, to be valued was to look and behave according to the societal ‘norm’ – dependency was largely represented as a feminine trait, whereas to be independent was to be masculine. How then did medieval people respond to deviations from these gendered expectations as a result of death (or dying), disabilities and chronic diseases? This session will consider the feminisation of death, disability and disease through an interdisciplinary lens, in order to answer questions about the perceived ‘feminine’ dependency of the marginal ‘third state’ between being fully healthy and fully sick (i.e. to be dying, diseased or disabled). It will hope to consider the contradictory nature of female disease and disability which both engendered an elevated sense of holiness and, conversely, a sense of physical monstrosity; the female response to death, disability and disease as elements of daily life which were (largely) out of their control; the effect of death, disability and disease on medieval constructions of masculinity; and whether – if death, disease and disability dehumanise the body – is it even important to consider the effect of these states on an individual’s gendered identity? We welcome multi-disciplinary papers from all geographical locations, c.1300-c.1500, which engage with themes such as (but not limited to): representations of death, disease and/or (dis)ability; literature either for or by women dealing with the themes of death, disease and/or disability; the tradition of Memento Mori and/or the Danse Macabre; the gendering of ‘Death’ ; the Black Death’s impact on traditional gender roles; obstetric death; female piety and holy anorexia; the effect of chronic disease and/or disability on late-medieval constructions of masculinity; women and disease (as the developers of cures, writers of recipes, carers or patients, etc.); female use of disability aids and/or prosthetics; and self-inflicted disfigurement.

Submission Guidelines

Please send a paper title and an abstract of 100-200 words to Rachael Gillibrand at the Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds ( by 23rd September 2016.

CFP – Kalamazoo – Before and After 1348: Prelude and Consequences of the Black Death

Session on Black Death at International Congress on Medieval Studies (Kalamazoo), May 11-14, 2017

“Before and After 1348:  Prelude and Consequences of the Black Death,” organized by Monica Green, email:
Abstract:  The “new paradigm” of Black Death studies has adopted the findings of recent paleogenetics and evolutionary understandings of Yersinia pestis‘s late medieval genetic diversification to see the Black Death as a much broader epidemiological phenomenon than previously realized. Although Black Death narratives are usually told from the perspective of western Europe, it is in fact likely that much of Eurasia and North Africa was affected by the newly proliferating organism. And in many of those areas, we know now, plague “focalized,” becoming embedded in the local fauna and thus persisting for years, or even centuries, thereafter. This session invites work that looks both at the late medieval pandemic’s origins before 1348 (whether in China or other places in central Eurasia) and its after-effects, including the 1360-63 pestis secunda. Cultural as well as scientific approaches are welcome.

Please send proposals directly to me:  Paper proposals (a one-page abstract and a Participant Information Form) are due by September 15. The links to information on the submission process and the Participation Information Form may be found at For the statement on Congress rules, see:

You may wish to know that the newly created Contagions: Society for Historic Infectious Disease Studies will also be sponsoring two sessions, tentatively entitled “Historic Landscapes of Disease,” and “The Great Transition: Climate, Disease, and Society in the Late Medieval World: A Roundtable on Bruce Campbell’s New Book.” For info on those sessions, please contact Michelle Ziegler,


More information on the American Association for the History of Medicine website