CFP: Institutional Health: Crossovers in Early Modern Environments (RSA 2020)

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2020 Renaissance Society of America (RSA) Conference

Philadelphia, 2-4 April 2020                         


Organizers: Danielle Abdon (Temple University) and Maggie Bell (Norton Simon Museum)


Institutional Health: Crossovers in Early Modern Environments


This panel seeks contributors working on rhetorical and practical concepts of institutional health and caregiving, particularly the ways through which contemporary understandings of physical and spiritual well-being shaped institutional practice. We define health concerns to include the metaphorical, such as the concept of Christus medicus or the body politic, to the very practical, including planning for famine, plague, or the death of a ruler. Our goal is to move away from Foucauldian discourse centered on institutional disciplining and the correction of bodies, focusing instead on health as a continuous organizing thread that ran across societal and organizational boundaries. By broadly addressing the concept of health, we hope to include topics not only related to healing but also to the prevention of physical and spiritual ailments. We are specifically interested in case studies that investigate crossovers between the different institutional practices of civic and spiritual organizations, including hospitals, prisons, convents, confraternities, among others, demonstrating how these establishments were in dialogue with each other. These crossovers may take shape in various forms, including but not limited to an institutions’ statutes, rituals and ceremonies, material culture, as well as architectural design, and as such, we welcome interdisciplinary contributions that offer new perspectives to our understanding of institutional health in the early modern period.


Please submit paper proposals to Danielle Abdon ( and Maggie Bell ( by August 4, 2019. Each proposal must include a paper title (max. 15 words), 150-word abstract, short CV (max. 5 pages), and keywords.