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EGENIS seminar: "Climate, Fertility and Heredity in Airs Waters Places ", Prof Rebecca Flemming (University of Exeter)

Egenis seminar series

The Hippocratic treatise Airs Waters Places is perhaps the founding text of environmental medicine. The author explains how living bodies, in health and disease, are all crucially shaped by climate, topography and water sources. Its ideas and advice proved influential across millennia, in the ancient Mediterranean, the medieval Islamicate and Christian worlds, and into the Early Modern Period, as neo-Hippocratism followed new colonial pathways. The focus of the text on questions of fertility and childbearing has been generally overlooked, however, and its models of generation and heredity have been rather hastily subsumed into more modern formulations such as ‘pangenesis’ and the ‘inheritance of acquired characteristics’.

Event details

This paper joins up the different concerns with fertility and heredity in Airs Waters Places in order to explore them more fully, within their environmental matrix. What relationship between climate and generation does the author variously assume and argue for? Why? And where might these notions fit into longer histories of the subject?

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