We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Event Archive

Health promotion and wellbeing in the early modern Italian household

17th June 2014, 17:30, Pemberton Lecture Room, PG21, Professor Sandra Cavallo, Royal Holloway

followed by a drinks reception at the World Hertitage Site Visitor Centre.

This event part of the IMEMS Power of Place seminar series for 2014. It is free and open to all, but attendees are asked to book a place at:

Abstract: The place this paper explores is the ‘medical (or medicalised) household’. In the last few years the early modern household has been extensively studied as a key therapeutic space where the sick was taken care of and pharmaceutical remedies were devised, produced and experimented. In sixteenth-century Italy however, the household also became an important site for the promotion of health: householders were routinely engaged in a range of preventive activities aimed to preserve their good health and these practices also required equipping the house with items of material culture that would enable the pursuit of healthy lifestyle. Moreover, preoccupations regarding the salubriousness of the air one breathes within the home influenced profoundly architectural design of private residences. This paper will develop some of the ideas presented in the book Healthy Living in Renaissance Italy,which I recently co-authored with Tessa Storey, and explore the broader social, economic and intellectual contexts that might have favoured the appearance, in sixteenth-century Italy, of a medical culture of prevention centred upon the domestic environment and its routines. 

Sandra Cavallo is Professor of Early Modern History and co-director of the Centre for the Study of the Body and Material Culture at Royal Holloway University of London. She specialises in the history of medicine, gender and material culture. Her publications include the monographs Charity and Power in Early Modern Italy (CUP 1995), Artisans of the Body in Early Modern Italy. Identities, Families, Masculinities (MUP 2007), and Healthy Living in Late Renaissance Italy (OUP 2013), co-authored with Tessa Storey. She has also co-edited the volumes Widowhood in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Longman 1999), Spaces, Objects and Identities in Early Modern Italian Medicine (Blackwell 2008), Domestic Institutional Interiors in Early Modern Europe (Ashgate 2009) and A Cultural History of Childhood and the Family vol. 3, The Early Modern Age (Berg 2010).

Contact for more information about this event.