- Department: History
- Module co-ordinator: Dr. Tara Alberts
- Credit value: 20 credits
- Credit level: M
- Academic year of delivery: 2021-22
- See module specification for other years: 2020-21
What’s the best cure for demonic possession? Which diseases are caused by sin, and how should they be treated? Are exotic medicines more effective, or are all necessary cures found where they are most needed on Earth? Over the sixteenth and seventeenth century such questions were pondered both by learned commentators, who sought a theoretical understanding of disease and by ordinary people, who were desperate for cures. This module explores how ideas about, and practical solutions to disease developed and changed in Europe over the sixteenth and seventeenth century.
The line between what we would consider ‘religious’ or ‘spiritual’ explanations and ‘secular’ theories about health and healing were often blurred. We will explore the interaction between ‘spiritual’ cures and other remedies for disease, and examine the controversies and debates which emerged over competing theories of illness. We will pay particular attention to two key issues: the impact of the religious changes of the Reformation and Counter Reformation, and the consequences of Europe’s interaction with the wider world, which brought access to new ideas and to novel materia medica.
|A||Autumn Term 2021-22|
The module aims to:
After successfully completing this course students should:
Students will attend eight weekly two-hour seminars in weeks 2-9.
The seminar programme may include the following:
Illness, health, society, and history
The body, mind, and soul
Curing with herbs, surgery or prayer?
Healing in the age of religious reform and renewal
Witchcraft and demonic possession
Scholarly searches for meaning
Exploration and exotic remedies
Miracle cures and evidence
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Students will complete a 2,000-word essay for formative assessment, due in week 6 or 7 of the autumn term, for which they will receive an individual tutorial. They will then submit a 4,000-word assessed essay for summative assessment in week 2 of the spring term.
For further details about assessed work, students should refer to the Statement of Assessment for Taught Postgraduate Programmes.
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Following their formative assessment task, students will receive written feedback consisting of comments and a mark within 10 working days of submission. They will also receive verbal feedback at an individual tutorial. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback on their formative work during their tutor’s student hours. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.
For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 20 working days of the submission deadline. Supervisors are available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment for Taught Postgraduate Programmes.
For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:
Cook, Harold C. Matters of Exchange. Commerce, Medicine and Science in the Dutch Golden Age. Yale University Press, 2007.
Duffin, Jacalyn. Medical Miracles. Doctors, Saints and Healing in the Modern World. Oxford University Press, 2008.
Lindemann, M. Medicine and Society in Early Modern Europe. 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press, 2010.
Reff, Daniel T. Plagues, Priests, Demons. Sacred Narratives and the Rise of Christianity in the Old World and the New. Cambridge University Press, 2005.