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Olivia Alton Weisser, PhD
University of Massachusetts, Boston (Boston, MA 02125-3300)
A Cultural History of Venereal Disease and its Treatment in Early Modern England

Research for a book-length history of venereal disease in 18th-century England.

I aim to write a lively, accessible history of venereal disease at the turn of the eighteenth century. The project takes an innovative approach by situating the disease within the texture of pre-modern London life. Rather than focus on institutional records or writing by elite men, the book grounds disease in the gardens, streets, and taverns where patients and healers discussed the disease, swapped remedies, and negotiated cures. In focusing on the words and lives of sufferers, as well as a particularly vocal group of clap-curers who lived and worked in the crowded streets of London, the book is intended to appeal to a broad audience. I use accessible prose and human stories, but without sacrificing the rigor of thoughtful scholarship. More broadly, the project aims to create an interdisciplinary model for studying the history of disease by drawing on the methods of cultural history, as well as the history of the book, gender history, and literary studies.

Project fields:
British History; Gender Studies; History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Medicine

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2019 – 8/31/2019