Leeches and leechcraft. The professionalization of the art and craft of healing in Sweden during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Project: Dissertation

Layman's description

In my dissertation i study leechcrafts in Sweden during the Middle Ages and Renaissance (ca 1100-1600). The study emphasizes the professionalization of the art of healing.

I analyze the material culture and written sources in a broad cultural historical perspective.

How hardships in the form of diseases and injuries are dealt with is a fundamental aspect of a society. It says a great deal about prevalent worldview as well as view of man and it has a very substantial and decisive effect on peoples everyday lives.

Within my dissertation I take an interest in different aspects of leechcraft in Sweden during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. I study the material culture in the form of artifacts (f. ex. surgical instruments and medical vessels) and milieus (f. ex. Leprosies, urban sites or monasteries) as well as written sources from the periods I am interested in.

From these source materials I am trying to understand what the circumstances were like in Sweden. Instead of uncritically applying more well known continental or south European conditions on the Nordic region and look for similarities or absence or imperfections of that, I strive to explore aspects of Swedish leechcraft from its own premises.

I discuss i.a. views of the body and how disease and physical suffering was understood in different cultural settings, and which kinds of leechcrafts were performed, by whom and for whom, as well as how the art of healing became increasingly professionalized.
Effective start/end date2007/09/012013/12/31