Allas, wher is this worldes stablenesse?
Heer up, heer doun; heer honour, heer repreef;
Now hool, now seek; now bountee, now mescheef.Regiment of Princes, ll. 47-49
In 1415, Thomas Hoccleve got very sick, got better, and found himself unsure how to return to the world on the other side of his illness. The millions of us who have contracted Covid-19 and recovered can empathize. Those who still struggle with symptoms, who face unemployment and dislocation, and who have lost loved ones may understand his “greef” all the more intensely. For the seventh annual Hoccleve Recovery Day on social media, November 1, 2020, the International Hoccleve Society asks for your reflections on illness and recovery in the age of Covid.
What lessons can we take from Hoccleve’s account of solitude, alienation, “anger and inpacience” in recovery? What models of writing and scholarship does he offer, in sickness and in health, for better or worse? How does Thomas’s “verry shame and feer” in public chime with our own anxieties around contagion and responsibility? Can we compare our regimes of surveillance and monitoring with the inquisitive eyes Thomas thinks follow him in the London crowd? That is to say, how are Hoccleve’s experiences of ableism and judgment comparable not only to those of people experiencing mental illness, but also to those recovering from COVID-19? Do Hoccleve and his contemporaries give us fitting ways of thinking through the relationship between the health of the individual body natural and the corporate body politic? And if “commvnynge is the beste assay,” how might we continue to commune in an era of quarantines and isolation?
Please join us this Recovery Day, November 1, 2020, by posting your thoughts or thematically pertinent medieval quotations and images across social media with the hashtag #Hoccleve. Look out for our own posts on our website, the @THoccleve and @HoccleveSociety Twitter feeds, thoccleve on Instagram, and International Hoccleve Society on Facebook. Like or share/retweet items throughout the day and feel free to append other tags to #Hoccleve, such as #recovery, #thisiswhataprofessorlookslike, #MiddleEnglish, or #MSilluminations. Please follow us, participate, and “like” us to stay tuned!