by Michelle Ziegler
Contagions: The Society for Historic Infectious Disease Studies has been given the opportunity of organizing three sessions at next year’s International Congress for Medieval Studies. This is the equivalent of a full day at the congress. The Congress will be held from May 10 to May 13, 2018, at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo Michigan. Our sessions next year will be:
Interdisciplinary Approaches to Historic Disease I and II
These two sessions are open to any aspect of study on infectious diseases and nutritional disorders in people and animals from the Late Antique to Late Medieval periods (400-1600 CE). These sessions are intended to be interdisciplinary as sessions, not necessarily as individual papers. Presentations on infectious diseases in literature, history, archaeology, and anthropology are all welcome.
Signs of Resilience in Medieval Populations
Major epidemics and natural disasters are ideal situations to study community resilience. No community is resistant to natural disasters; resilience is the best we can expect. Epidemics like the Black Death hit multiple communities in rapid succession but not all communities were equally affected in the short or long term. There are so many questions that can be asked.
- What allows some communities to quickly rebound while others dwindle away?
- How do people mentally cope with a famine and/or massive epidemic?
- What changes did communities make to better prepare or prevent a similar disaster in the future? Examples would include rebuilding flood walls or rerouting a river, increasing communal food stores, or building a surveillance system to detect the plague.
- How did past experiences alter the community response to the next epidemic or another disaster?
- How did responses differ between types of disaster (epidemic, flood, earthquake)? Flooding, at least, would be expected on a regular basis.
- How did they prioritize their response? For example, did community leaders prioritize the economy (import/export) over public health?
- What role did religious institutions play in disaster response?
Presentations are limited to 20 minutes. PowerPoint-like presentations are encouraged. Participant Information Forms and an abstract are due to Michelle Ziegler by September 15th, contact prior to that date would be appreciated. Initial contact can be made through the form below.