CFP: Pursuing Wellness: Medicine and Healing in New England

Barbara Mathews's picture
Call for Papers
December 3, 2021
Massachusetts, United States
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, American History / Studies, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Native American History / Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies


Pursuing Wellness: Medicine and Healing in New England

A one-day symposium sponsored by Historic Deerfield, Inc. and the Grace Slack McNeil Program for Studies in American Art at Wellesley College

Date: Saturday, March 12, 2022 

CFP Deadline: December 3, 2021

Location: Historic Deerfield, Deerfield, MA This will be a hybrid program, with either on-site or virtual registration options for attendees. Covid-19 protocols will be strictly followed throughout the symposium. Speakers will present on site at Historic Deerfield unless Covid-19 conditions necessitate a shift to a fully virtual symposium.

This year’s symposium will focus on the ways in which New Englanders sought to promote, maintain, and restore health. We invite paper proposals that explore the topic of wellness in New England from the colonial era through the early 20th century including African, Indigenous, and European medicinal, oral and material traditions of healing. How did understandings of what constituted good health shape the built environment, material health practices, perceptions of illness, appropriate remedies, and visual representations of wellness in a particular time and place? In what ways did medical advances, discoveries and new therapies affect individual and community understandings of the limits of medical knowledge? How did art reflect cultural assumptions and reactions to ideals of health, or, conversely, to disease e.g., the “art of consumption” (tuberculosis) in the 19th century? What role did architectural and landscape design and/or practices play both in response to and in promoting contemporary medical theories of health, healing, and hygiene? What approaches might be taken to preserve and interpret the architectural heritage of health and wellness, particularly when historic asylums, hospitals, sanitoria, etc. are seen as obsolete and not easily adapted to contemporary practices? What insights might we gain from the material culture of wellness e.g., herbaria, medical instruments, “invalid” furniture, and products promoting health and fitness? 

Papers should be theoretical or analytical in nature rather than descriptive and should be approximately 20 minutes long.  All proposals will be peer-reviewed. Speakers invited to present papers will receive overnight accommodation and are expected to participate fully in the symposium program.

Please submit via email a 250-word proposal and a two-page c.v. to Barbara Mathews and Martha McNamara Proposals should include the title of the paper and the presenter's name. The deadline for submissions is December 3, 2021.  

Contact Info: 

Barbara Mathews