Vivamente Conference on Premodern Fertility: Theory and Practice Across the Premodern World

Sarah Toulalan Announcement
Subject Fields
History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Women's & Gender History / Studies, Humanities, Sexuality Studies, Popular Culture Studies

This Vivamente Conference is organised by Catherine Rider and Sarah Toulalan at the University of Exeter, UK, with and supported by the Centre for the Study of Medicine and the Body in the Renaissance (CSMBR) in Pisa, Italy.

This Vivamente conference seeks to bring together scholars working on fertility (and infertility) in the premodern world from a very broad range of perspectives and on geographically diverse locations. Much work so far has followed traditional divisions between the medieval and early modern periods and has focused on specific regions and intellectual traditions: thus we have, for example, studies of Arabic medical texts, medieval Latin medicine, or of early modern England. However, many medical ideas were shared across Europe and the Islamicate world from the Middle Ages into the eighteenth century because of their common intellectual roots in ancient Greek humoral medicine and because texts were translated and copied across wide areas. 

This conference seeks to move beyond different periods and regional contexts to tease out similarities and differences in understandings, approaches, and remedies to build a broader, more geographically diverse - particularly extra-European - perspective on fertility in the premodern world and which further explores the transmission and inter-connections of ideas. We will also engage with current discussions and concerns about fertility to think about the implications of continuities and changes over time.

The conference will be held at the CSMBR, Domus Comeliana, Pisa on 22 and 23 May 2023. Keynote speakers are: Carmen Caballero Navas (Granada), Tracey Loughran (Essex), and Regina Toepfer (Wurzburg).

There will also be an online option. We would like to encourage postgraduate students and early career scholars to participate and will be offering a subsidised conference fee for postgraduate students.

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers on any aspects of fertility (broadly defined) on any part of the world before c.1800, or panel proposals of 3 papers. Suggested topics for panels include: Art History/Material Culture, transmission of ideas between cultures including between learned and popular culture, theory and practice, medical texts about fertility and their audiences. Other panel topics are also very welcome!

We will also be holding a poster event and invite proposals for posters.

Please send titles and abstracts of up to 250 words to Catherine Rider ( and Sarah Toulalan ( by Monday 17 April 2023. For panel proposals please include a panel title and abstract as well as individual paper titles and abstracts.

Conference registrations and further information are through the CSMBR website: You may also email Catherine Rider and Sarah Toulalan for further information (but not to register).


Contact Information

Catherine Rider: email -

Sarah Toulalan: email -


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