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CCU Community Dialogue Series looks at early modern mental illness in Europe

February 12, 2013

A behind-the-scenes look at history's attempt to diagnose mental illness will be presented at "Crowdsourcing Renaissance Melancholy: Madness, A Physician's Casebooks and the History of Mental Illness," on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. in the Edwards Recital Hall at Coastal Carolina University. Attendance is free and open to the public.

Brian Nance, a professor of history at CCU, will present two intriguing 400-year-old case histories of mentally ill patients. Audience members will participate as historians and psychiatrists by registering modern diagnoses for these cases, as well as any historical factors that could explain them. The results will be quickly tabulated to serve as the basis for a discussion of how Renaissance understandings of mental illness and healing compare to our own.

Nance specializes in Renaissance history and the history of medicine. He uses Latin case histories, published in 16th century Europe, to create multilayered medical narratives that reveal how patients and physicians understood and fought disease.

The source of the discussion is Nance's current book project, "Observing Melancholy." The book examines the history of mental illness while considering the extraordinary cases of "Melancholia" published by the Dutch physician Pieter Van Forest in 1590.

Nance regularly teaches upper-level courses on early modern Europe at CCU. He earned a Ph.D. in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The lecture is part of the Community Dialogue Series, presented by the Board of Visitors of the Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts.

The Recital Hall is located at 133 Chanticleer Drive W. in Conway.

For more information, contact Brian Nance at 843-349-2461.