CFP: Alternative Approaches to Health in the Long-Eighteenth Century

      Comments Off on CFP: Alternative Approaches to Health in the Long-Eighteenth Century

In his multi-volume Hygëia; Or, Essays Moral and Medical (1802), Thomas Beddoes notes the paradox that “no one knows the value of health, till it is lost” (Vol. I, Essay I, p. 83). Stretching from the 1665 outbreak of the plague through the 1850 cholera epidemic, the “long” eighteenth century witnesses an extraordinary debate over the attainment, preservation, and the very meaning of health through competing discourses and practices that give shape and influence the development of medicine, history, literature, politics, and culture well into the nineteenth century. From the perspective of health and medicine post “germ theory,” this period functions as a gateway for “thinking differently about the individual subject, health, and nature.” Indeed, even before the development of germ theory, the different understandings of disease effectively functioned as “alternative or complimentary, rather than contradictory,” since their definitions were continuously in flux1. This difference allows scholarship to chart the coexistence of multiple medical and social models of caring for the body, or even what counts as ‘health’ or ‘medicine.’ From debates between Brunonian, Hunterian, and Boerhavian conceptions of the body to indigenous and non-western practices, we invite scholarly essays that contest and complicate our understanding of the meanings, representations, and practices of health and/or medicine in the period. 

This collection seeks proposals for 5,000-6,000 word essays that explore alternative conceptions, practices, and approaches to health in the long-eighteenth century. We expect that these essays will be accessible to a wide range of scholars from different disciplines and hope that they will be written in a way that makes them available to advanced undergraduate readers. 

We particularly invite essays that explore: 

● Indigenous and non-western traditions of health and healing 

● Home remedies and homeopathy 

● Prosthetics and other technological developments for atypical bodies ● Intersections of race, imperial networks, and health 

● Literary renegotiations of health, illness, and care 

Please submit 300-400 word abstracts to Matthew L. Reznicek ( and Miriam Wallace ( by 17 May 2024. We will aim for the submission of 5,000-6,000 word essays in the Spring of 2025.