Birkbeck Medieval Seminar: Hygiene and Health in the Middle Ages featuring Prof. Carole Rawcliffe

The Birkbeck Medieval Seminar presents a hybrid event with our very own Prof. Carole Rawcliffe.

The seminar is on Friday, 16 June from 10:00-17:00 (GMT). There is an option to watch the event virtually. Register here.

From the website:

Friday 16 June 2023 10:00-17:00 This event is hybrid, convening at Birkbeck, 30 Russell Square, Room 101, and also online. For participants who want to listen in remotely, a Teams link will be sent prior to the event. 

The 2023 Birkbeck Medieval Seminar focuses on hygiene in the Middle Ages, considering both attitudes and practices. Contrary to popular perception, this was a subject of great interest to medieval people, who were generally much cleaner than we assume. This interdisciplinary seminar will build on recent studies which have attempted to ‘clean up’ the Middle Ages, showing that medieval Europeans developed sophisticated strategies (informed by a coherent set of beliefs about the relationship between hygiene and health) to keep themselves and their surroundings clean. It will also consider approaches to and experiences of dirtiness, including the ascetic practices of the medieval clergy and archaeological evidence of parasitic infections. ‘Hygiene and Health in the Middle Ages’ will develop our understanding of medieval personal hygiene and public health, especially as they relate to contemporary ideas about health and medicine.

Scheduled Speakers:

Dr Janna Coomans (Utrecht University)  Fire and Flow: Sanitation and Community Politics in the Low Countries, 1300-1530

Dr Katherine Harvey (Birkbeck) ‘Tortured by Vermin’: Piety and Personal Hygiene in Later Medieval Europe

Dr Piers Mitchell (University of Cambridge) Parasites and Hygiene in Medieval Europe

Prof. Carole Rawcliffe (UEA) “Travel is a fearsome thing”: Guides to health for late medieval wayfarers.

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