M. Teresa Tavormina – Prognosis v. Diagnosis in Middle English Uroscopic Texts


Event Date: 26 May 2012
Royal Holloway, University of London
11 Bedford Sq
London WC1E 6DP

The Department of History Royal Holloway University of London presents:

Medical Prognosis in the Middle Ages

M. Teresa Tavormina (Michigan State University) – Prognosis v. Diagnosis in Middle English Uroscopic Texts

Most Middle English uroscopies offer prognostic advice sparingly, laying a much greater focus on diagnosis and, in a number of uroscopies, on therapeutic recommendations.  However, prognostication based on urine, or on urine and other symptoms, does occur in some uroscopies; in a number of manuscripts, uroscopic treatises also appear together with texts more explicitly dedicated to prognosis, ranging from astrological works to weather prognostics to Spheres of Life and Death and so on.
In this paper, I draw on my ongoing taxonomic study of all Middle English uroscopic texts, in order to analyse the nature and distribution of prognostic content in several major Middle English uroscopies and types of uroscopic  text.  I also review the most common genres of prognosticatory texts that appear together with urine texts in the manuscript tradition.  If time allows, I hope to conclude by revisiting the Middle English translation of the Hippocratic Prognostics in Trinity College, Cambridge MS R.14.52, with particular attention to the uroscopic passages in the incomplete and still-unedited Part 2 of that translation.



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