The Center for Italian Studies

The Department of Romance Languages

at the University of Pennsylvania


present the

Spring Research Seminar Series:



"Holy Embryology in Late Renaissance Italy"

Andrew Berns

University of Pennsylvania

Physicians in sixteenth-century Italy took an active interest in pregnancy, parturition, and neonatal health.  In this presentation I will discuss the correspondence of two Italian physicians of the late renaissance, one Jewish and the other Christian, about an unusual birth that took place in January of 1594 in Luzzara.  Births— especially complicated ones— presented medical professionals the opportunity to reflect on a variety of medical and scientific topics.  They also provided the germ for philosophical speculation, textual criticism, and the contemplation of religious ritual.  A close study of this epistolary exchange sheds light on changing patterns in medical advice literature, Jewish-Christian relations, and the connections between nature and religion in Italian culture at the close of the sixteenth century.


Tuesday, February 24

6:00 pm

Cherpack Lounge

543 Williams Hall

University of Pennsylvania