“The tempting girl, I know so well”: Representations of Gout and the Self-Fashioning of Bohemian Humanist Scholars

Early Science and Medicine 21 (6):511-530 (2016)

The current study deals with the representation of gout in Bohemian humanist literature and its impact on the cultural definitions of being a humanist scholar from the 1550s to the 1620s. Bohemian humanists produced a number of brief autobiographical remarks and lengthy Latin poems dealing with gout or its personified form, podagra. After analysing Bohemian medical treatises, the author focuses on the gout-related imagery from a gender perspective. The main section of the study deals with how the disease was gendered on the level of argument and figurative speech, how its/her body and the relationships to humanist poets were described, which features were related to its/her victims and what this imagery could mean for the ways in which humanists fashioned themselves in their correspondence or casual poetry. Last but not least, the author demonstrates how gout-related imagery intermingled with social elitist discourses which enabled the articulation of the social superiority of humanist scholars and posed a challenge to the period’s social hierarchies.
Keywords humanism   gout   representation  Bohemian Lands   neo-Latin poetry
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DOI 10.1163/15733823-00216p02
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