Healing, Performance and Ceremony in the Writings of Three Early Modern Physicians: Hippolytus Guarinonius and the Brothers Felix and Thomas Platter
While the writings of early modern medical practitioners habitually touch on performance and ceremony, few illuminate them as clearly as the Protestant physicians Felix Platter and Thomas Platter the Younger, who studied in Montpellier and practiced in their birth town of Basle, or the Catholic physician Hippolytus Guarinonius, who was born in Trent, trained in Padua and practiced in Hall near Innsbruck. During his student years and brilliant career as early modern Basle's most distinguished municipal, court and academic physician, Felix Platter built up a wide network of private, religious and aristocratic patients. His published medical treatises and private journal record his professional encounters with them as a healer. They also offer numerous vivid accounts of theatrical events experienced by Platter as a scholar, student and gifted semi-professional musician, and during his Grand Tour and long medical career. Here Felix Platter's accounts, many unavailable in translation, are examined together with relevant extracts from the journals of his younger brother Thomas Platter, and Guarinonius's medical and religious treatises. Thomas Platter is known to Shakespeare scholars as the Swiss Grand Tourist who recorded a 1599 London performance of Julius Caesar, and Guarinonius's descriptions of quack performances represent the earliest substantial written record of commedia dell'arte lazzi, or comic stage business. These three physicians' records of ceremony, festival, theatre, and marketplace diversions are examined in detail, with particular emphasis on the reactions of 'respectable' medical practitioners to healing performers and the performance of healing. Taken as a whole, their writings contribute to our understanding of many aspects of European theatrical culture and its complex interfaces with early modern healthcare: in carnival and other routine manifestations of the Christian festive year, in the extraordinary performance and ceremony of court festivals, and above all in the rarely welcomed intrusions of quacks and other itinerant performers.
Table of Contents
Contents: Part I Introduction: Healing performance and ceremony in the writings of three physicians; The brothers Felix Platter (1536-1614) and Thomas Platter (1574-1628); Hippolytus Guarinonius (1571-1654). Part II Ceremony and Festival: 'Christian fools with varnish'd faces'; Jewish traditions and ceremonies in Montpellier and Avignon; Physicians at court festivals; Commedia dell'arte costumes at a German court wedding of 1598. Part III Healers and Performers: Queen Elizabeth, Shakespeare and English actors in Europe; Marketplace healers and performers; Medicine, magic and superstition; Performing monsters. Part IV Performing Healing: Commedia dell'Arte Quack Troupes: A new identification for 'Zan Bragetta': Giovanni Paulo Alfieri; Quack performances in Guarinonius's Grewel; Marketing medicine, exemplifying folly: lazzi and the deadly sins; Physical, mental and spiritual; health: stage fools in a medical treatise. Part V Source Texts: Felix Platter: the 1598 wedding of Johann Georg, Count of Hohenzollern and Franziska, Countess of Salm; Thomas Platter in Avignon: Jewish life and a performing quack troup in 1598; Hippolytus Guarinonius's Grewel: 35 commedia dell'arte lazzi; Bibliography; Index.
M.A. Katritzky is the Barbara Wilkes Research Fellow in Theatre Studies in the English Department of The Open University, UK, and author of The Art of Commedia: A study in the commedia dell'arte 1560-1620 with special reference to the visual records (2006) and Women, Medicine and Theatre 1500-1750: Literary Mountebanks and Performing Quacks (2007).
'Katritzky’s great care in curating this wealth of material make this book a well-organized trove of useful data for any scholar of early modern history and culture.' Renaissance Quarterly '... Healing, PerforÂmance and Ceremony offers an inventive and insightful synthesis of medical and theatre history that will undoubtedly be of great interest to generalists and specialists alike. [Katritzky’s] engaging and highly detailed assessments of the socio-religious dimensions of physicians’ career ambitions and interactions with the prevailing culture of performance, moreover, opens an important new window into the shaping of early modern medical identities that has long been overlooked by scholars of medical history.' The Seventeenth-Century News 'The book convincingly argues that the intertwinement of medicine, performance, and festivity is a fertile field of study that has the potential to act as a bridge between the burgeoning literature on theatre studies and the history of medicine. Katritzky demonstrates that original findings are to be made by focusing on the crossover between the two disciplines. Certainly, Healing, Performance and Ceremony will introduce many readers to the three physicians for the first time but it will do so in a way that makes a compelling case for their relevance to a wide readership.' Journal of the Northern Renaissance '... provides valuable insights into the flexible boundaries between performance and healing in the early modern period. Katrizky's deft analyses of the writings of the three physicians significantly inform our understanding of the intersections between early modern theatrical and medical culture. She firmly establishes the invaluable contribution of life and travel writing to the history of theatre. Above all, Katrizky explores a neglected area of medical history with her thorough and engaging investigation of the way physicians interacted with the prevailing theatrical culture.' Parergon