CFP: Plague and Famine: An Interdisciplinary View

I am organizing a session for the 45th International Congress on Medieval Studies to be held from May 13-16, 2010 at Western Michigan University at Kalamazoo on the relationship between plague and famine.

Famines have long been associated with the two great historic plague pandemics: the plague of Justinian (541-c. 750) and the Black Death (14th century onwards). This session seeks papers that examine the interaction between famines and the plague specifically. Considering the two pandemics together opens new areas of research. The role of cattle epizootics adds an interesting third deminsion to the environment of plague and famine that prevailed during both plague pandemics. Cattle epizootics, caused by unknown agents, alter human nutrition for years after the epizootic ends.

I am inviting submissions from historians, biologists, archaeologists, anthropologists and others to explore the interaction between plague and nutrition. Understanding plague dynamics will only come by exploring the complex interaction between plague and its environmental context that includes epizootics of domestic animals and human famines.

Submit your proposal and contact information to Michelle Ziegler at


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