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HMAN1970D and ARCH 1709

Places of Healing:

Memory, Miracle, and Storytelling



A Cogut Center for the Humanities Topics Seminar
in collaboration with
Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World
Fall 2012


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Course Description

The growing field of medical geography puts emphasis on the bodily experience of place and the production of local knowledge about specific places, while it draws on the constitutive link between bodies, wellness, memory, and place. From antiquity to our day, therapeutic landscapes such as mineral and thermal springs, mysterious caves, shrines and churches built at sacred springs, volcanic ash mud baths, rocky landscapes emitting odorous gasses that stimulate hallucination, and ponds filled with medicinal leechesthat cure blood diseases, all attracted health pilgrims who immersed their bodies into the geological substance of these localesor ingested their waters for miraculous healing. Practices of storytelling transformed these locales into places of memory and long term pilgrimage. This seminar investigates places of bodily healing and miracle from a cultural studies perspective, and takes into account recent scholarly literature on place, bodily experience, memory, and storytelling. The case studies will be primarily drawn from the Mediterranean world and Western Asia. Special emphasis will be placed on geologically wondrous locales such as Lourdes in France, Hierapolis in Southwestern Turkey and the Agiasma churches of Byzantine Istanbul that link ancient places of healing to modern sites of pilgrimage and religious heritage.






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