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Nexus symposium - Pandemic narratives: Plague, condoms and immunopolitics

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Elizabeth Burchill Room E561

20 Chancellors Walk

Monash University, Clayton Campus

Melbourne

Australia

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We are very pleased to invite you to the third Nexus symposium for 2017. This session brings together three distinguished speakers on the theme of Pandemic narratives: Plague, condoms and immunopolitics:

John Henderson

Death in Florence: Narrating plague in early modern Tuscany

The aim of this paper is to examine and compare a series of narratives of the experience of plague during the last outbreak in Florence, the capital of the Grand-duchy of Tuscany in the years 1630-1. These will include official narratives through public histories; medical narratives though plague tracts and correspondence of contemporary doctors; administrative narratives from those who organised the campaign against plague and the quarantine of the sick in isolation hospitals; and finally popular narratives, through the numerous judicial cases against those accused of breaking the sanitary legislation designed to control of the movement of people and goods.

Professor John Henderson is one of the leading historians of medicine in renaissance and early modern Tuscany. He is Research Professor on the Focus Program 'Body and the City' in the Department of History at Monash University, Professor of Italian Renaissance History in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, Birkbeck, University of London, and Fellow of Wolfson College, University of Cambridge. He has published a wide range of books and articles on the social, religious and medical history of medieval and renaissance Tuscany. His books include: Piety and Charity in Late Medieval Florence (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1994; Chicago University Press, 1997), The Great Pox. The French Disease in Renaissance Europe, with J. Arrizabalaga and R. French (Yale University Press, 1997), and most recently The Renaissance Hospital. Healing the Body and Healing the Soul (Yale University Press, 2006). He is at present completing a book on plague in early modern Florence for Yale University Press.

Patrick Spedding

Profilaxis and Poetry: Tracing the history and use of condoms in satiric poetry of the early eighteenth century

The aim of this paper is to trace the history and use of condoms by examining their literary representations in a collection of erotic poems, composed between 1706 and 1728 and published in The Potent Ally (1741). The appeal of the poems to contemporary readers was in decoding the literary and scholarly puzzles, and the barrage of classical, topical and sexual allusions and “gentlemanly badinage.” The value of the collection to scholars today is in the information these poems contain concerning the way in which condoms were used, and the extent to which they were (mistakenly) celebrated for their ability to protect users from disease, rather than from unwanted pregnancies.

Dr Patrick Spedding is a lecturer in Literary Studies at Monash University and associate-director of the Centre for the Book. His current research focuses on the publication of erotica in eighteenth century London and the history of the condom in the long eighteenth century.

Mark Davis

Immunopolitics in pandemic narratives

If immunity places you beyond the law, it is always a matter of the law (Cohen, 2009, A body worth defending, p. 45).

Pandemic narratives travel across the media technologies of science and popular culture and into lived experience. Today, these narratives often take the form of stories on ‘emerging and remerging infectious diseases,’ biosecurity threats and the rise of antibiotic resistant infections. With reference to scholarship on biocommunicability, I explore how these stories circulate and rework the metaphors of contagion and immunity as forms of biopolitical action on threats to life.

Associate Professor Mark Davis has written extensively on HIV, Hepatitis C, and pandemic influenza. He currently leads an ARC DP researching public engagements with the science and expert advice on antibiotic resistance. His books include Sex, Technology and Public Health (Palgrave), HIV Treatment and Prevention Technologies in International Perspective (Palgrave), edited with Corinne Squire; Disclosure in Health and Illness, (Routledge), edited with Lenore Manderson, ‘What is Narrative Research?’ (Bloomsbury), with colleagues from the Centre for Narrative Research, University of East London, and Pandemics, Publics and Narrative (forthcoming, Oxford University Press), with Davina Lohm.


Registration is free.

Afternoon tea will be provided.

Please RSVP via Eventbrite by Monday 25 September 2017

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Elizabeth Burchill Room E561

20 Chancellors Walk

Monash University, Clayton Campus

Melbourne

Australia

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