Bedwritten: Middle English Medicine and the Ailing Author

Chelsea Silva
UC Riverside

This research project has three primary components. First, it centers on late medieval authorship and healthcare, and is heavily based in unpublished medical recipes and archival materials in Middle English. Second, tied to this project is a searchable, open-access database of medical recipes transcribed from manuscript sources. Finally, it explores an edition of British Library MS Harley 4349, a unique medical manuscript written by an English physician, which includes an extensive narrativized remedy collection as well as a number of longer tracts describing his practice. “Bedwritten: Middle English Medicine and the Ailing Author,” redefines “embodied writing” in order to account not only for the body itself, but for the processes of maintenance and repair that defined life within it in late medieval Europe. Figuring the patient not just as a collection of symptoms and diagnoses but as embedded in a particular cultural and historical network of relations, “Bedwritten” puts forward a number of case studies in which attention to the material realities of physical impairment transforms our understanding of medieval literature, revealing the shaping power of medical care on writers’ experiences of illness and impairment and, consequently, on the texts they produced.