June 2013

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The Centre for Economic History is pleased to announce a meeting on the new history of European plague on Friday 20th September 2013 in G11 at the Henley Business School, University of Reading.
The science of genetics has developed at a considerable pace in past two or three decades. Whilst it has wrought major advances in medical science, the application of this new science to history has produced unexpected results, answering some old questions and prompting others. One of the most sensational is the extraction of Y. pestis DNA from skeletons associated with the plague epidemics of the fourteenth century. This seems to settle for one and all a perennial question – What was plague? – whilst throwing up others – Where did plague come from?  Why did it die out? How was it communicated? Indeed, is the Y. pestis of the fourteenth century the same as that found in Asia today, or have other genetic changes in pestis or its hosts taken place?

 The Centre has convened a meeting on 20 September to consider these developments and review recent work of a more traditional sort being undertaken on plague in the centuries when it was a real but unwelcome force in European history.

Please find below the provisional programme for the day.

 10.30   Registration and coffee

 11.00   Welcome

 11.05   Barbara Bramanti (Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), University of Oslo), ‘The medieval plagues: how genetics and ecology can help in understanding our history’

 12.00   Bruce Campbell (Queen’s Belfast), “The Black Death in Eurasia, some unanswered questions”.

 1.00     Lunch

 13.50   Jim Bolton (QMW), ‘Scientists, historians and the plague in medieval England: a new history?’

 2.45     Marco Bonetti (University of Bocconi), ‘The 1630 Plague in Nonantola: a Lifetime Data Analysis’.

 3.30     Tea

 4.00     Morgan Kelly and Cormac O’Grada (TCD), ‘Birth and death in London in a plague era, 1560-1665’.

 5.00     Afterword, Paul Slack (Linacre College, Oxford)

 5.15     Conference ends/drinks reception/dinner in Reading for those staying over.

 Whilst there is no charge for attendance at this meeting it is recommended that you register early to secure a place.  Please contact Amanda Harvey by email on a.h.harvey@reading.ac.uk.

 Lunch and refreshments are included for people registering by 13 September 2013.