Friday, November 7, 2008

Fordham University 2008 Fall Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Fordham University 2008 Fall Medieval Studies Lecture Series presents:

Outside the Camp?
Inventing the Medieval Leper *

Professor Carole Rawcliffe* *
University of East Anglia, UK

Thursday, November 6th, 12:00 pm*
Walsh Library, 4th Floor
O'Hare Special Collections
Fordham University, Bronx Campus /

A lunch buffet will follow the lecture. All are welcome /

On Thursday, Nov. 6 at noon in the O’Hare Room of Walsh Library, Prof.
Carole Rawcliffe will give a talk on /Outside the Camp? Inventing the
Medieval Leper/ that draws on medieval sources to expose the myths and
misunderstandings that have grown up around the medieval leper. Just as
Cancer and AIDS have become the iconic diseases of modern times, so
leprosy has often been projected as a symbol of ‘the Dark Ages’, when
superstition and fear marched hand in hand with ignorance. Many of our
most cherished assumptions about medieval responses to ‘the leper’ are,
however, based on myths and misunderstandings that developed in the
nineteenth and early-twentieth century, and find little, if any, support
in the original records. In England, anxiety about contagion was, for
example, limited and confined to the later Middle Ages; and it is clear
that presumed victims of the disease were never forcibly segregated into
remote hospitals. Nor were they subject to bizarre rituals or social
ostracism. The complex picture that emerges from a return to primary
source material provides a fascinating insight into medieval responses
to human suffering and a salutary case study of the misinterpretation of
historical evidence in the interests of scientific progress.

Kerri Kupec
Administrative Assistant
Center for Medieval Studies
Fordham University

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