Bedwritten: Middle English Medicine and the Ailing Author


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation explores the intersection and interaction of healthcare and literature in late medieval England. Texts produced in this period attest to the entanglement of literary and medical discourses and epistemologies. From the poetry of John “The Blind” Audelay to the medical collection of the Italian physician Donatus Antonius ab Altomare, this project redefines embodied writing to account not only for the body itself, but for the processes of maintenance and repair that defined life within it. Reading vernacular medical collections with, against, and alongside canonical literary texts produced by authors who were ailing or impaired, “Bedwritten” puts forward case studies in which attention to the material realities of embodiment transforms understandings of medieval literature. In doing so, it reveals the shaping power of medical care on writers’ experiences of illness and impairment and, consequently, on the texts they produced.