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Retrospectacle on the Plague
January 18, 2008 1:46 PM   Subscribe

Retrospectacle on the Plague. Shelley Batts is a neuroscience PhD candidate who writes the great blog Retrospectacle [Prev]. She's recently posted a series on the bubonic plague: It's real and perceived causes (1 2), the bizarre medical garb doctors used, and modern cases of Yersinia pestis* infection in the U.S. and the world.
posted by McLir (16 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Interesting; thanks.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:27 PM on January 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Goodness gracious, that is the most terrifying doctor's attire I could possibly imagine. This is fantastic, thanks!
posted by Greg Nog at 2:30 PM on January 18, 2008


That medical garb is awesome and fascinating. She's a good writer, too.
posted by zebra3 at 2:43 PM on January 18, 2008


I think I've found this year's Halloween costume!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:46 PM on January 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


the bubonic plague: It's real

It's real? Was this ever in doubt?
posted by ethnomethodologist at 2:49 PM on January 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


ethnomethodologist writes "It's real? Was this ever in doubt?"

The Bible never predicted the plague, so in my book it's just a theory, like evolution and the dinosaurs. It's probably God testing us.
posted by mullingitover at 3:06 PM on January 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


That is a heck of a blog, McLir. Thank you for the find.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:48 PM on January 18, 2008


The entry on "neurosurgical tools of the early 19th century" is pretty amazing. A lot of her entries are pretty amazing.
.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:52 PM on January 18, 2008


I think Shelley's been involved in a storm of controversy, and I thought either someone at MeFi or someone who posts here and posted elsewhere had some personal contact with her, perhaps worked with the same people, and said unpleasant things, related somehow to a contest of some sort. Does anybody remember something like this?
posted by StrikeTheViol at 4:05 PM on January 18, 2008


the bubonic plague: It's real

ethnomethodologist: It's real? Was this ever in doubt?

It came from space, according to Fred Hoyle. To be serious, there's quite some debate as to whether Yersinia Pestis was solely responsible for the black death.* One important data point against is that it hit Iceland in medieval times (though very late, due to being very isolated) and at the time there were no rats in the country. There are suggestions that the bubonic plague, in conjunction with another disease, was the cause.


*The term "Black Death" is actually a 19th Century coinage, IIRC the contemporary English term was "The Great Mortality." I don't remember what it was called in other languages, but I recall that there was a list on the web somewhere a long time ago, but that seems to be gone.
posted by Kattullus at 4:21 PM on January 18, 2008


StrikeTheViol writes "I think Shelley's been involved in a storm of controversy, and I thought either someone at MeFi or someone who posts here and posted elsewhere had some personal contact with her, perhaps worked with the same people, and said unpleasant things, related somehow to a contest of some sort. Does anybody remember something like this?"

I think you might be remembering this. Don't know if I'd call it a 'storm of controversy.'
posted by mullingitover at 4:28 PM on January 18, 2008


Oh, that's it...I had misremembered it as a bit more "cut off my hand" than it was.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 4:41 PM on January 18, 2008


I guess it doesn't count as a double, then...the first link to her blog was interesting too.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 4:44 PM on January 18, 2008


So let me get this straight: if you had the plague in 16th century Europe, and were lucky enough to get treated, that meant you went to see a man costumed as some kind of terrifying and hideous anthropomorphic basilisk, who poked you with an aromatic stick to diagnose you, then proceeded to put leeches on you, gave you a smoke and put you in a mercury sauna. Fucking brilliant that is.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 5:18 PM on January 18, 2008


Badger, badger, badger...
posted by homunculus at 5:41 PM on January 18, 2008


Not everyone is convinced, that the "Plague" was caused by Yersinia pestis but also could have been a viral hemorrhagic fever 1, 2.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 12:30 PM on January 19, 2008


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