Montclair State’s interdisciplinary Medieval and Early Modern Studies Seminar is co-convened by the Departments of History, Modern Languages and Literatures, Classics and General Humanities, Philosophy, Spanish and Latino Studies, and English. The seminar brings together interested faculty and graduate students from across the university and the region to consider new research in the fields of medieval and early modern studies. All are warmly welcome.
Special Series 2020-21: Social Distance/Remote Intimacy
Christopher Hutchinson (University of Mississippi)
The English Sweating Sickness and the Rhetoric of Virality
Co-sponsored by the Medical Humanities program
Wednesday, October 28, 4-5pm
Remote meeting: See Zoom link and password below
Christopher Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of German at the University of Mississippi. His research focuses on early modern German literature, print history, and the history of disease. He holds a Ph.D from Stanford in German Studies and a B.A. in Modern and Medieval Languages from Cambridge.
When a deadly new epidemic, the English sweating sickness, struck Germany in the Summer of 1529, it sparked a wave of short, vernacular, printed pamphlets on the disease, which some writers and doctors accused of spreading fear and lies. In this talk, I argue that this spread of harmful information on the sweating sickness is indicative of medical writers’ growing anxieties about the spread of cheap, vernacular pamphlets in first century of print. In their responses to the sweating sickness, these writers draw parallels between the spread of the disease and the spread of fear and misinformation on the disease, suggesting the pamphlets might be taking more lives than the sweating sickness itself. In doing so, they develop what I call a “rhetoric of virality” to give voice to their anxieties about the printed word.