Whites, blacks and tawneys: Perceptions of Native Americans in the early modern Anglo-Atlantic Event as iCalendar

(History, School of Humanities)

14 September 2017


Venue: Pat Hanan Room, CLL Building (207-501)

Dr Mark S. Dawson | Australian National University

It is widely accepted that the dominant medical paradigm in early modern England was humoral. On the basis of ancient authorities, indirectly Hippocrates and quintessentially Galen, human physiology was commonly believed to comprise four elemental fluids: the sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic, and melancholic humours – albeit in diverse combinations. In this paper, I aim to show how humoralism allowed the English to take the measure of New World strangers during the long seventeenth century. Indigenous bodies were considered unhealthy and, therefore, not actually native to the Americas. Historians have long recognised the prevalence of such attitudes among English adventurers and settlers. Yet these attitudes have often been assessed according to modern biological and racial paradigms, rather than on their own terms. Their original significance has therefore been misunderstood.


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