Textualizing Illness

Medicine and Culture in New England 1620–1730

‘Textualizing Illness’ investigates how colonial New England writings represented and contributed to the meaning-endowment of diseases. It explores how the textual configurations of illnesses changed in the wake of the scientific revolution, growing numbers of non-Puritan settlers and African slaves, and increasing contacts with Native Americans.

The representations of colonial body perceptions and illness experiences are often hidden in a broad textual archive and thus require “reading across” different texts and authors to analyze the positions and functions of the sick body in both medical and cultural discourses. In the illness narratives surveyed here, medical issues – from actual practices to intellectual responses to diseases – illustrate how early American literature and society developed a regional distinctiveness while being embedded in transnational circuits of knowledge formation and cultural practices.


Rebecca Tannenbaum in: Journal of American History, Vol. 103.2 (2016), 452f

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