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Live streaming of public conference: Representing Infirmity: Diseased Bodies in Renaissance and Early Modern Italy

Unknown Umbrian Painter, St. Francis of Assisi and Three Franciscan Friars Caring for Lepers, 1474. Illustration from Giacomo Oddi, Lo Specchio dell’Ordine Minore (known as La Franceschina), Perugia, Biblioteca Comunale Augusta, ms. 1238, fol. 223r. (detail)
The Prato Consortium for Medieval and Renaissance Studies invites you to a public conference

Representing Infirmity: Diseased Bodies in Renaissance and Early Modern Italy 
Monash Prato Centre, Thursday-Friday 14-15 December, 9:45am

Live stream of Professor Evelyn Welch from King's College, London, "Breaking Skin in Renaissance Italy", 9:45am.(link is external)

This conference represented the first analysis of how diseased bodies were portrayed in Italy during the ‘long Renaissance’, from the early 1400s through ca. 1650. Many individual studies by historians of art and medicine address specific aspects of this subject, yet there has never been an attempt to define or explore the broader topic. Moreover, most studies interpret Renaissance images and text through the lens of current notions about disease. The conference avoided the pitfalls of retrospective diagnosis, and looked beyond the modern category of ‘disease’ by viewing ‘infirmity’ in Galenic humoural terms. The papers explored what infirmities were depicted in visual culture, in what context, why, and when. Specific examples consider the idealized body altered by disease, and the relationship between the depiction of infirmities through miracle cures and through medical treatment. Speakers examined how and why these representations change across media and over time. Thus, certain types of diseased bodies appear often in votive images, but never in altarpieces or sculptures; representations of wounds and sores grow increasingly less graphic and frequent, but with notable exceptions. In conclusion, how the development of greater knowledge of the workings and structure of the body in this period, through, for example, the growth of anatomy, was reflected in changing ideas and representations of the metaphorical, allegorical, and symbolic meanings of infirmity and disease. 

Abstracts and speaker biographies.