English Professor Points to 18th-Century Poetry for Sage Wellness Advice During the Pandemic

Melissa Schoenberger, associate professor of English. Photo by Tom Rettig

The Conversation

In the age of COVID-19, some readers are turning to age-old texts for wellness advice. One of these relevant texts is "The Art of Preserving Health," a poem by the Scottish poet-physician John Armstrong published in 1744, a year after influenza had swept through Europe.

In an article for The Conversation, Melissa Schoenberger, associate professor of English at Holy Cross, analyzes the poetic prescriptions offered in Armstrong's poem, which include making sure to get lots of fresh air away from dense crowds or, in his words, a "kindly sky" in a "woodland scene where nature smiles," as well as maintaining a "watchful appetite."

"Today, medical experts can offer more options for treatment than Armstrong ever could have imagined,'' says Schoenberger. "But health care workers past and present will likely always have in common the challenge of keeping the public informed, engaged and well."

A Holy Cross faculty member since 2015, Schoenberger specializes in Restoration and eighteenth-century poetry.

To read the full article, go to TheConversation.com.