Northern Centre for the History of Medicine and Medical Humanities

Luc Racaut

Lecturer in History
School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Newcastle University

Tel: +44 (0)191 222 8614

School of History, Classics and Archaeology
Armstrong Building
University of Newcastle

In 2010-11, the Northern Centre for the History of Medicine funded trips to Switzerland for Dr Luc Racaut for exploratory workshops on the history of the body. Dr Racaut's project explores, amongst other things, the body in pain and its representation in early modern media in general, and Protestant martyrologies in the context of the French Wars of Religion in particular.

The body in pain, in late medieval representations of the passion and public executions, served a didactic function and followed a code that was well understood. Wounds were liminal places not simply between the inside and the outside, but between the corporeal and the spiritual. The stigmata received by St Francis was a visible sign of his imitation of Christ, an outward sign of his inner election, a topos that was mirrored in tales of the exemplary deaths of martyrs and repentant criminals. In an inversion of this ‘sacred woundedness’, the perpetrators of violence on the bodies of heretics during the wars of religion were looking for visible signs of damnation or corruption inside their bodies - literally - worlds inside out. By the end of the sixteenth century the namelessness of the victims of massacres, and the shapelessness of their bodies, could no longer be reconciled with tales of individual martyrs that had featured in Protestant martyrologies to that point.

Dr Racaut presented a paper on 'Archives of the Body' at the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference Annual Conference in Fort Worth, Texas, on 25 October 2011. He obtained an overseas conference grant (£500) from the British Academy in March 2011 to attend. A keynote paper, 'The Body in Pain and Tales of Election and Damnation during the French Wars of Religion', was also presented by Dr Racaut at Archives of the Body: Medieval to Early Modern An International Workshop, held at Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge, 8-9 September 2011. 

Dr Racaut is currently working on a project entitled ‘The Word Inside Out: emotions and the body in the French Wars of Religion’. This project includes:


  • Plenary given at the "Archives of the Body" conference, Hugues Hall, Cambridge, 7-9 September 2011
  • Pybus Public Seminar, Northern Centre for the History of Medicine, Newcastle, 19 October 2011
  • Sixteenth Century Studies Conference, Forth Worth, Texas, 28 October 2011

Ongoing collaboration:

  • A Newcastle based Virtual Research Environment was created to pool resources on the research topic and encourage collaboration with other institutions (ongoing)
  • Chairing of a Newcastle based reading group entitled 'Bodies and Identities' involving colleagues in History, Archaeology and Classics (ongoing)
  • A book is currently under contract with Routledge entitled “The world inside out”: emotions and the body in the French religious wars" to be completed in 2015


  • Godly Governance: Religion and Political Culture in the Early Modern World, c. 1500-1750, York, 27th-28th June 2014
  • Society for the Study of French History, ‘History and the Senses’, Durham,  10-12 July 2014
  • European Reformation Research Group, Murray Edwards College, Cambridge, 9-10 September 2014
  • Reformation Studies Colloquium, Murray Edwards College, Cambridge, 10-12 September 2014
  • Defending the Faith, Salisbury, 15-17 September 2014
  • Sixteenth Century Studies Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana, 16-19 October 2014


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