Roundtable on Campbell’s Climate, Disease, and Society in the Late Medieval World

by Michelle Ziegler Bruce Campbell. The Great Transition: Climate, Disease, and Society in the Late Medieval World. Cambridge University Press, 2016. When I first learned that Bruce Campbell was working on this book, I wondered if it would be the first grand synthesis of the new paradigm. Although there have been some very good regional... Continue Reading →

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What’s in a name?

The post-Roman centuries in Europe have a bit of an identity crisis. If we defined the period from when the Western Emperor was abolished in 480 to the crowning of Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor on Christmas day 800 AD, what would you call it? At times I've used all of these names, and a... Continue Reading →

Beyond Germs: Native Depopulation in North America

Beyond Germs: Native Depopulation in North America. Edited by Catherine Cameron, Paul Kelton and Alan Swedlund. University of Arizona Press, 2015. With the number of emerging infectious diseases climbing and new revelations about plague's past, this book is a timely caution to the rhetoric surrounding so-called virgin soil epidemics. This book is the publication of... Continue Reading →

Autumn Reading

While autumn is not officially over yet, December always seems like winter to me so here is my reading review from autumn. This season I'm introducing a book review rating system. On my scale, an average book would get three scopes; a good book, four; and only the extraordinary book gets five scopes. I probably... Continue Reading →

The Black Death in the Ottoman Empire and Ragusan Republic

Nükhet Varlık. Plague and Empire in the Early Modern Mediterranean World: The Ottoman Experience 1347-1600. Cambridge University Press, 2015. Zlata Blažina Tomic and Vesna Blažina  Expelling the Plague: The Health Office and the Implementation of Quarantine in Dubrovnik, 1377-1533. McGill-Queens University Press, 2015.  [Dubrovnik = Ragusa]. [An English edition of  Blažina-Tomić, Zlata. Kacamorti i kuga. Utemeljenje... Continue Reading →

Challenging Virgin Soil Epidemic Assumptions 

The depopulation of Native Americans during the 16th to 18th centuries, one result of the 'Columbian Exchange', has been held up as the ultimate example of virgin soil epidemics. The emphasis put on the 'virginity' of the native population, bordering on biological determinism, has absolved the colonial powers of a multitude of sins. Some archaeologists... Continue Reading →

CFP: Medieval Landscapes of Disease

Call for Papers Medieval Landscapes of Disease 50th International Congress of Medieval Studies Western Michigan University Kalamazoo, MI   -- May 14-17, 2015  In recognition that diseases are manifestations of their environment, this session seeks papers that place medieval diseases within their environmental context. Just as a seed must be placed in good soil to... Continue Reading →

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