30th Annual Medieval Workshop: Medieval Medicine


Course description

Join us for a full day of lectures by researchers/professors plus music, displays and unique insights into medieval life!

Date: Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017

Medieval Medicine

Both a science and an art, medicine is a hot topic in the Middle Ages: inherited from Antiquity, transferred from other cultures and countries, universal in its categories and relevance but individual in its practice and diagnosis. Medical knowledge is the “physics” of the physicians (an expertise on natural laws and elements) and the practice of healing through the restoration of the natural balance.

This workshop will be on physicians, but also on botanists, nurses, healers, midwives and witches. It will explore the connections between macrocosm and microcosm (the big and small worlds), and between the realms of stars, colours, gems, elements, seasons, music, diets and ages. Ultimately, representations of the body and definitions of health illuminate the profound union perceived between the nature and the human nature.

Program Schedule (Subject to Change)

Brief session descriptions and speaker biographies are available under "Additional course info" below.

Time Session
9:00 Dean Chris Goto-Jones (Humanities), Acting Dean Richard Rush (Continuing Studies) and Associate Dean Margaret Cameron (Humanities), UVic
Opening Remarks
9:15 Hélène Cazes, Medieval Studies and French, UVic
The Four Seasons of Medieval Medicine
10:00 Mitch Hammond, History, UVic
The Black Death: New Approaches to an Old Catastrophe
10:45 Library Presentation and Refreshment Break
11:30 Keynote Speaker: Faith Wallis, History of Medicine, McGill
The Medical World of Master Bartholomaeus: Theories, Therapies, and the Renaissance of the Twelfth Century
12:30 Lunch Break
1:00 Students Research and Poster Fair
1:30 Concert by the Banquo Folk Ensemble
2:30 Mini-break—no refreshments
2:50 Jamie Kemp, Adjunct Professor for Medieval Studies, UVic
Diagnosing Hildegard: The Medicalization of Mystic Visions
3:30 Marcus Milwright, Art History and Visual Studies, UVic
The True Balsam of Matarea, Panacea of the Medieval World
4:30 Closing Remarks

Faculty Coordinator

Hélène Cazes, PhD, Director, Medieval Studies Program, UVic


We invite you to have a look at the 2016-17 Centre for Studies in Religion & Society Newsletter, which contains a paper on Medieval Medicine on pages 6-7.

Session Descriptions and Speaker Biographies

Hélène Cazes (Medieval Studies and French) - The Four Seasons of Medieval Medicine

In 1543, a twenty-eight year old anatomist, Andreas Vesalius published a treatise that would be held as the "first chapter of modern medicine" by the posterity, up until our own historians of medicine: the Fabric of the Human Body. In this sum, the young doctor claims to "have awaken the science of medicine, which had been asleep for the last fourteen centuries", since the famous Greek physician Galen (129-216). Was it asleep? Or more accurately, was it a consistent system for explaining the macrocosm of the universe, the microcosm of the human body and the relationships between these two words? What has been lost with the demise of Galenism? How scientific was this bygone representation of the world? Let's explore humours, temperaments and...diets!

A specialist of humanism, Dr. Hélène Cazes is a professor at the Department of French and the director of the Program of Medieval Studies. She has been awarded the Award of Excellence in Research (Uvic, Humanities, 2013) as well as the University of Victoria Leadership Award for her work on humanism and its dissemination. She has been studying the Renaissance history of medicine (melancholy, anatomy, the love disease) for the last years, supported by a SSHRC grant for "Enfin, Vésale vint...", a research project addressing the writing of history of medicine in the 16th and 17th centuries.

More on helenecazes.info.nl

Mitch Hammond (History) - The Black Death: New Approaches to an Old Catastrophe

In just a few years, research in diverse scientific fields, including genomics and climatology, have markedly influenced our perspective on the Black Death. This talk considers the latest vantage points on the catastrophe that shaped an era and the implications for the relationship of current science and the history of the medieval past.

Mitchell L. Hammond is assistant professor in the UVic Department of History. His research explores health care in early modern Europe with a focus on German cities in the era of the Reformation.

Keynote Speaker: Faith Wallis (History of Medicine, McGill, Lansdowne Lecturer) - The Medical World of Master Bartholomaeus: Theories, Therapies, and the Renaissance of the Twelfth Century

His medieval readers called him "an extraordinary and unique teacher" (precipuus ac singularis magister), and "the supreme theoretician of the art of medicine" (summus theoricus in arte phisica). They painted him seated in the company of the great physicians of antiquity Hippocrates and Galen, and of the masters of Arabic learning Hunayn ibn Ishaq and Averroes. Master Bartholomaeus, sometimes called "of Salerno" (d. ca. 1170), was one of the most influential medical figures of the twelfth century, and indeed, of the Middle Ages as a whole. He lived at a time of profound change in the way western Europeans thought about, taught, and consumed medicine. The life and writings of Master Bartholomaeus exemplified, and in no small measure shaped this new medicine.

Faith Wallis is internationally renown for her expertise in history of Medieval Medicine. She has published several books on the topic, among which:

1. Isidore of Seville, On the Nature of Things. (with Calvin Kendall) Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, in press.

2. Bede: Commentary on Revelation. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013.

3. Medieval Medicine: A Reader. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010.

4. Bede: The Nature of Things and On Times (with Calvin Kendall). Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010.

5. Bede: The Reckoning of Time. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1999. 2nd ed. 2004.

She is the editor of several scholarly collections of essays, notably on  "Disease, 1000-1300", "Bede's Commentary on Proverbs", and "Surgery in the West from the Greeks to the Enlightenment."

Jamie Kemp (Art History and Visual Art) - Diagnosing Hildegard: The Medicalization of Mystic Visions

In his book, Migraine, celebrated neurologist Oliver Sacks argues that the vibrant and diagrammatic images that illustrate the mystic texts of Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) are evidence that the Benedictine abbess and scholar suffered from visual migraines (scintillating scotoma). But to what extent can such visual representations reveal the medical and neurological lives of people in the past? And how does the medicalization of female mysticism shape our understanding of the intellectual contributions of medieval women? By placing the Hildegard diagrams in their intellectual and art historical context, I will argue that viewing these images as idiosyncratic symptoms of medical disorder erases their central message—namely that Hildegard, who was herself understood as a learned medical scholar, possessed convincing scientific and theological knowledge. The diagrams use a well-established and liberally employed visual language to communicate the authority of Hildegard and her mastery over centuries of scholarly learning.

Jamie Kemp is Professor/Tutor of Art History and Visual Art at Quest University Canada in Squamish, BC and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medieval Studies at the University of Victoria. Her present research focuses on medieval diagrams and the cognitive function of images in fifteenth-century encyclopedic manuscripts (particularly luxury copies of Bartholomaeus Anglicus’ De proprietatibus rerum). She is also involved in a collaborative research project on the subject of visual learning with UVic’s Visual Cognition Lab (Department of Psychology). Her broader research interests include knowledge visualization, image-text relations, cultures of reading, and book history. 

Marcus Milwright (Art History and Visual Studies) - The True Balsam of Matarea, Panacea of the Medieval World

In the fourteenth century balsam oil was traded across the Mediterranean and Middle East for its weight in gold. True balsam came from just one source, a walled garden owned by the sultan of Egypt, and located in the town of Matarea just outside of Cairo. Balsam was often sent as part of lavish diplomatic gifts, particularly to the rulers of Medieval Europe. While balsam had many other applications, it was its role in medicine that is most prominent. Scholars writing in Greek, Syriac, Latin, Arabic, and other languages list many conditions that were treated with balsam, from cataracts to infected wounds. Balsam was also a vital ingredient of famous antidotes to snake venom and other poisons. This paper establishes the history of true balsam, from its ancient origins through to the demise of the last tree in the plantation of Matarea in 1615, and considers the reasons why it came to be so highly regarded in the ancient and medieval medicine.

Marcus Milwright is professor of Islamic art and archaeology in the Department of Art History and Visual Studies, University of Victoria. He has held fellowships at the Aga Khan Programs for Islamic Architecture at Harvard and MIT and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art at Shangri La (Honolulu). His research interests include the art and archaeology of the Islamic Middle East, labour and craft practices in the urban environment, and cross-cultural contacts in the Medieval Mediterranean. He has published The Fortress of the Raven: Karak in the Middle Islamic Period (1100-1650) (Brill, 2008), An Introduction to Islamic Archaeology (Edinburgh University Press, 2010), and The Dome of the Rock and its Umayyad Mosaic Inscriptions (Edinburgh University Press, 2016). He is also working on a history of the balsam of Matariyya in Egypt and an anthology of primary sources describing traditional craft practices in the Islamic world. 

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