Guest Editors:

Prof. I-chun Wang (National Sun Yat-Sen University, Taiwan)

Prof. Douglas Cairns (University of Edinburgh, UK)


This special issue, scheduled to be published in June 2022, seeks essays of 6,000 to 10,000 words that propose to explore questions of well-being, illness, and remedy, whether corporeal, psychological or spiritual, across a wide range of disciplines and cultural expressions, including art, literature, history, philosophy, religion, and medicine, with a particular emphasis on how greater understanding of the period from antiquity to early modernity can shed new light on contemporary approaches to holistic health and healing.

Throughout Antiquity, and into the Middle Ages and Premodernity, disease and its cures were invariably approached in an integrative manner, as involving corporeal, mental and spiritual well-being, both at an individual and societal level. A breakdown in harmony and balance, whether within the individual, in social relationships, or with God/the gods could lead to personal dis-ease (in the literal sense), or even to mass affliction.

Literary works are a rich source of information on attitudes towards disease and its cures. In the classical period, illness is a major theme in Greek and Roman tragedy. In the Middle Ages, Petrarch, Dante, and Boccaccio explored ideas of lovesickness, spiritual malaise, and the moral and social challenges of disease. As did Chaucer, so Gower, Langland, and the Pearl-Poet all explored the metaphorical and thematic possibilities of disease and medicine. In the Renaissance and Early Modern period, Cervantes made the consequences of old age and an unstable mind the central concern in Don Quixote. Questions of disease and remedy, both physical and psychological, are to be found in many of Shakespeare’s works too, while Metaphysical poets such as John Donne also considered the tension between the health of the body and of the spirit.

Suggested topics for this special issue include but are not limited to:

  • Disease, well-being, and cure in Classical, Medieval, and Early Modern literature
  • Miracle accounts from Late Antiquity to the Early Modern Period
  • The theological and religious context of corporeal and spiritual disease and healing
  • Biblical disease and healing
  • Pilgrimages, shrines, relics, and healing
  • Well-being, malady, and remedy in Classical, Medieval, and Early Modern philosophy
  • Medical literature from Antiquity to early-Modernity
  • The history of disease and healing in the Christian and Catholic tradition
  • Malady and wellness between East and West
  • Environmental and ecocritical approaches to the relationship between nature and human health
  • Religion and spirituality in the context of the professionalization and institutionalization of medicine
  • Influence of Classical, Medieval, and Early Modern traditions of disease and wellness on Modern and Post-modern culture
  • Artistic portrayals of malady and healing, both corporal and spiritual


Please follow our submission guidelines to submit articles online by March 31 2021:


I-Chun Wang has taught Renaissance and 20th century British dramas and medical literature and general English at National Sun Yat-sen University and Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan. She directed the Center for the Humanities at National Sun Yat-sen University and various programs at these two universities and she has involved with several associations as well. Her research interests include English Renaissance drama, comparative literature, Chinese and Taiwan dramas and medical humanities. She edited and co-edited books and special issues for journals such as Canadian Review of Comparative Literature and CLCWEB. Her publications have appeared in Gendered Boundaries (Studies in Comparative Literature 28), Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics, East Asian Cultural and Historical Perspectives, Cityscapes: World Cities and Their Cultural Industries, Shakespeare and Asia among others. 

Douglas Cairns is Professor of Classics in the University of Edinburgh and author of Aidôs: The Psychology and Ethics of Honour and Shame in Ancient Greek Literature (1993), Bacchylides: Five Epinician Odes (2010), and Sophocles: Antigone (2016). His most recent edited volumes include Emotions in the Classical World: Methods, Approaches, and Directions (with Damien Nelis, 2017), Greek Laughter and Tears: Antiquity and After (with Margaret Alexiou, 2017),  Seneca’s Tragic Passions (with Damien Nelis, 2017),  Distributed Cognition in Classical Antiquity (with Miranda Anderson and Mark Sprevak, 2018), and A Cultural History of the Emotions in Antiquity (2019). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and of the British Academy, and a Member of Academia Europaea. His current research project, funded by a European Research Council Advanced Grant (2018–22), is a history of the concept of Honour in Classical Greece.