We ini­tiated the book within a US aca­demic context, and the rising con­sumer con­sciousness around “wellness” products and mar­keting. To what degree can indi­vidual prac­tices shape health out­comes? I also mention in my acknowl­edg­ments the sig­nif­icant role my 2017 course at Bowdoin had at shaping this book project. As I sought to provide an overview of health and healing in the Iberian-Atlantic world, we con­nected with readings by Sarah Owens, Pablo Gómez, Alisha Rankin – and of course all of these scholars have had pivotal roles in shaping this book. The ten essays in this book are divided into three parts, focused around: treatment models, rep­re­sen­ta­tions of health, and the inter­section of faith & illness.

My own essay [“staging women’s healing: theory and practice”] falls into this section on rep­re­senting health, and talks about the comedia as a genre and the reflexive rela­tionship between fiction and readers, audience and actors, health prac­tices and prac­ti­tioners. I focus on a series of plays by Tirso de Molina including El amor médico, as well as rep­re­sen­ta­tions of health and illness in Don Quixote. It also addresses the topic of women’s medical recipes as tes­timony to practice and exper­i­men­tation as well as the impor­tance of the genre overall. This corner of my essay is what led me to a Ful­bright in Valéncia at the start of 2020 at the Instituto López Piñero for the history of science and med­icine, and the start of the archival col­lecting for future projects. And of course we weren’t able to predict that we would leave Spain at the end of March 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout this project, Sarah and I have been com­mitted to the idea that engagement with early modern health expe­ri­ences and prac­tices allows con­tem­porary readers to better engage with their current his­torical moment. At the time of writing, we engaged directly with Rita Charon’s 2018 NEH lecture “How the Human­ities Have What Med­icine Needs”. Of course, if we were to reissue the book just a few months later, I’d double down on the rel­e­vance in the moment we are all expe­ri­encing, specif­i­cally what a fem­inist approach to the cul­tural history of med­icine means during the real­ities of our “twin pan­demics”. Living with Covid-19 and struc­tural racism has pro­duced an upswell of global activism, inspiring and energizing—massive protests around the world demanding change—but also hor­ri­fying in the con­stant rep­e­tition and grap­pling with vio­lence and suf­fering: George Floyd’s murder in May 2020, racial health inequities and the physical toll for com­mu­nities of color unable to access needed medical treatment. And so, when we talk about early modern health in Spain and Latin America, we are engaging in needed cross-cultural and cross-temporal con­ver­sa­tions that have the sig­nif­i­cance to shape tour own cur­ricular expe­ri­ences of the rela­tionship between human­ities and science broadly, and also our per­sonal expe­rience of health expe­ri­ences past and futures, and the ever exciting explo­ration of how the inter­section between schol­arship and activism has the potential to improve health out­comes in our communities.