CfP: VivaMente Conference in the History of Ideas 2024, 24-25 October 2024, hybrid (Pisa, Italy)

VivaMente Conference in the History of Ideas 2024, 24-25 October 2024, hybrid (Pisa, Italy)

Interpretive and Scientific Knowledge in Medical and Medico-Legal Case-Histories from Antiquity to the Renaissance

Hybrid Conference
24-25 October 2024
Domus Comeliana, Pisa

Daniel King (Exeter), Nephele Papakonstantinou (Würzburg)

Keynote Speaker:
Thomas Baier (Wuerzburg)

Confirmed Speakers:
Alessandra Quaranta (Liège), Nicola Reggiani (Parma), Biagio Santorelli (Genova), Anna Maria Urso (Messina)

Contributions are invited for the 2024 VivaMente Conference in the History of Ideas. This edition will focus on the intersections of narrative, rhetorical persuasion, and factual evidence in medical and medico-legal case-histories from Antiquity to the Renaissance. Both genres of case-histories (or consilia) can be traced from the Hippocratic Epidemics (e.g., Ricciardetto 2020), through Roman medical-legal practice (Lloyd 2009; Reggiani 2018 with Papakonstantinou 2023) and Islamic medicine (Alvarez Millan 1999) to the Renaissance (e.g., Chanielier & Nicoud 2012; Quaranta 2022). They shape, each with a different approach, the process of diagnosis, providing persuasive accounts of clinical facts and medical truths, as observed or inferred from the patients’ symptoms.

The conference will draw upon the approaches developed in the field of Narrative Medicine (Hunter 1991; Petridou & Thumiger 2015), and will build on recent work done on the role of rhetoric in medicine (e.g., Petit 2023), to investigate a number of important questions:

  1. how did different forms of medical narrative describe symptoms, contextualising them within contemporary medical doctrines?
  2. by whom were these accounts compiled and for what audiences?
  3. how did they combine objective observation and subjective descriptions of symptoms in compelling accounts of medical truths and facts?
  4. could the parameters of a specific case alter the narrative structure of practical knowledge as emerging from the physician’s (and the patient’s) perception?
  5. how could such accounts constitute a source of knowledge for evidence used in legal practice?

By studying both the longue durée development of consilia and their synchronic relationships, this conference will provide a renewed historical perspective on the ways in which medical diagnosis, understood as a practical activity, changed over time; and how such changes occurred in the adjacent fields of law and medicine.


Abstracts of no more than 500 words must be accompanied by a small biographical note, and must contain the abstract's relationship to the previous literature on the topic (including citations).

Papers will be delivered within a 35-minute time limit and will be followed by a 10-minute discussion.

Please send your abstracts to both organisers, at and, by 30 May 2024.

The organisers’ decision will be communicated to the authors of abstracts by 15 June 2024.


Papers Submission: 30 May 2024.

Selected applicants’ confirmation: 15 June 2024