New book – Plague Image and Imagination from Medieval to Modern Times – ed. by Lynteris, Christos – Palgrave Macmillan

Presents a history of plague, bringing together scholars from early modern and modern history as well as anthropologists working on plague in historical and contemporary contexts

Examines the visual record of the plague and explores the relationship between the epidemic image and human imagination

Integrates geographical perspectives beyond the usual Eurocentric plague frame, appealing to scholars of global history and colonialism

This edited collection brings together new research by world-leading historians and anthropologists to examine the interaction between images of plague in different temporal and spatial contexts, and the imagination of the disease from the Middle Ages to today. The chapters in this book illuminate to what extent the image of plague has not simply reflected, but also impacted the way in which the disease is experienced in different historical periods. The book asks what is the contribution of the entanglement between epidemic image and imagination to the persistence of plague as a category of human suffering across so many centuries, in spite of profound shifts in our medical understanding of the disease. What is it that makes plague such a visually charismatic subject? And why is the medical, religious and lay imagination of plague so consistently determined by the visual register? In answering these questions, this volume takes the study of plague images beyond its usual, art-historical framework, so as to examine them and their relation to the imagination of plague from medical, historical, visual anthropological, and postcolonial perspectives.

More info on the editor website

New book – Exceptional Bodies in Early Modern Culture: Concepts of Monstrosity Before the Advent of the Normal, ed. by Maja Bondestam, pub. by Amsterdam University Press

Exceptional Bodies in Early Modern Culture, Concepts of Monstrosity Before the Advent of the Normal

Maja Bondestam (ed.), published by Amsterdam University Press, new series Monsters and Marvels. Alterity in the Medieval and Early Modern Worlds


Drawing on a rich array of textual and visual primary sources, including medicine, satires, play scripts, dictionaries, natural philosophy, and texts on collecting wonders, this book provides a fresh perspective on monstrosity in early modern European culture. The essays explore how exceptional bodies challenged social, religious, sexual and natural structures and hierarchies in the sixteenth, seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries and contributed to its knowledge, moral and emotional repertoire. Prodigious births, maternal imagination, hermaphrodites, collections of extraordinary things, powerful women, disabilities, controversial exercise, shapeshifting phenomena and hybrids are examined in a period before all varieties and differences became normalized to a homogenous standard. The historicizing of exceptional bodies is central in the volume since it expands our understanding of early modern culture and deepens our knowledge of its specific ways of conceptualizing singularities, rare examples, paradoxes, rules and conventions in nature and society.


Table of contents

Introduction – Maja Bondestam

1. The Moresca Dance in Counter-Reformation Rome: Court Medicine and the Moderation of Exceptional Bodies – Maria Kavvadia

2. Monsters and the Matemal Imagination: The ‘First Vision’ from Johann Remmelin’s 1619 Catoptrum microcosmicum Triptych – Rosemary Moore

3. The Optics of Bodily Deviance: Juan Ruiz de Alarcon’s Path to Public Office – Pablo Garcia Pillar

4. ‘The Most Deformed Woman in France’: Marguerite de Valois’s Monstrous Sexuality in the Divorce satyrique – Cecile Resfels

5. Curious, Useful and Important: Bayle’s ‘Hermaphrodites’ as Figures of Theological Inquiry – Parker Cotton

6. An Education: Johannes Schefferus and the Prodigious Son of a Fisherman – Maja Bondestam

7. Ambiguous and Transitional Bodies: Stillbirth in Stockholm, 1691-1724 – Tove Paulsson Holmberg

Afterword – Kathleen Long


“Monsters and problematic identities” – graduate student conference – The Medieval and Renaissance Student Association (MaRSA) of California State University, Long Beach


The Medieval and Renaissance Student Association (MaRSA) of California State University, Long Beach is seeking individual papers as well as panel submissions for their graduate student conference.

The conference will be held at the Karl Anatol Center on the campus of CSULB on March I2th, 2020. Medieval and Renaissance monstrosity and identities. As an interdisciplinary conference, we welcome submissions from a wide array of disciplines focusing on the art, literature, and history of the period. Paper and panel topics might address issues (but are not limited to) the following:
Monsters es the other (theories of otherness)

Eco-critIcism and Monsters

Nationalism and Monsters

Identity formation

  • Gender
  • Race
  • Sexuality
  • Religious identity

Psychoanalysis (historical actors)


Medievalism Fantasy Monsters

  • Zombies
  • Ghosts
  • Dragons
  • Fairies
  • Demons
  • Giants
  • Ogres
  • Werewolves (shapeshifters)
  • Dwarves

Cultural/Social Isolation (outlaw)/ Marginalization

Travel Literature, and Monsters

Colonialism/ Imperialism Trans-AtiaMic

Disabilities (dwarves)

Medieval Imaginary

Monstrous Bodies

Witchcraft (magic)

Ideological Appropriation