In April, I attended and spoke at New York University's The Worlds That Plague Made Conference, the annual conference for the University's Medieval and Renaissance Center. The interdisciplinary event brought together literature scholars, historians, art historians and physicians to examine how plague was represented, understood and experienced in the medieval and early modern worlds. The range of material covered and disciplinary diversity made the event a great success for plague scholars, and I came away with new questions to consider in my own research.
My paper addressed the popular seventeenth-century recipe for the Countess of Kent's Powder and its use during the Great Plague of London in 1665, considering questions of shifting authority in women's medical writing. The papers delivered were of a high standard, and I was particularly struck by Katy Reedy's consideration of special plague services as well as Alison Bumke's discussion of the representation of contagion in John Donne's work, as each touched on elements relevant to my own research, both current and prior.
The event concluded with an engaging keynote talk from Susan Jones that ushered the event's examination of the medieval and early modern periods into a discussion of plague in the present day.