Infirmity in Antiquity and the Middle Ages
Social and Cultural Approaches to Health, Weakness and Care
By Christian Krötzl, Katariina Mustakallio and jenni Kuuliala
This volume discusses infirmitas (’infirmity’ or ’weakness’) in ancient and medieval societies. It concentrates on the cultural, social and domestic aspects of physical and mental illness, impairment and health, and also examines frailty as a more abstract, cultural construct. It seeks to widen our understanding of how physical and mental well-being and weakness were understood and constructed in the longue durée from antiquity to the Middle Ages. The chapters are written by experts from a variety of disciplines, including archaeology, art history and philology, and pay particular attention to the differences of experience due to gender, age and social status. The book opens with chapters on the more theoretical aspects of pre-modern infirmity and disability, moving on to discuss different types of mental and cultural infirmities, including those with positive connotations, such as medieval stigmata. The last section of the book discusses infirmity in everyday life from the perspective of healing, medicine and care.
Table of content
Session on Black Death at International Congress on Medieval Studies (Kalamazoo), May 11-14, 2017
“Before and After 1348: Prelude and Consequences of the Black Death,” organized by Monica Green, email: email@example.com.
Abstract: The “new paradigm” of Black Death studies has adopted the findings of recent paleogenetics and evolutionary understandings of Yersinia pestis‘s late medieval genetic diversification to see the Black Death as a much broader epidemiological phenomenon than previously realized. Although Black Death narratives are usually told from the perspective of western Europe, it is in fact likely that much of Eurasia and North Africa was affected by the newly proliferating organism. And in many of those areas, we know now, plague “focalized,” becoming embedded in the local fauna and thus persisting for years, or even centuries, thereafter. This session invites work that looks both at the late medieval pandemic’s origins before 1348 (whether in China or other places in central Eurasia) and its after-effects, including the 1360-63 pestis secunda. Cultural as well as scientific approaches are welcome.
Please send proposals directly to me: firstname.lastname@example.org. Paper proposals (a one-page abstract and a Participant Information Form) are due by September 15. The links to information on the submission process and the Participation Information Form may be found at http://www.wmich.edu/medievalcongress/submissions. For the statement on Congress rules, see: http://www.wmich.edu/medievalcongress/policies.
You may wish to know that the newly created Contagions: Society for Historic Infectious Disease Studies will also be sponsoring two sessions, tentatively entitled “Historic Landscapes of Disease,” and “The Great Transition: Climate, Disease, and Society in the Late Medieval World: A Roundtable on Bruce Campbell’s New Book.” For info on those sessions, please contact Michelle Ziegler, email@example.com.
Call For Papers – VariAbilities III:
The Same Only Different?
Senate House, University of London (Malet Street, London, WC1E, England)
Tuesday and Wednesday 6 & 7th June 2017
In the third iteration of the Variabilities Series, we will take stock of the academic work done on the “body” in “history”.
When we study the “Body” should we restrict ourselves to impaired bodies or make comparisons with sports bodies? Or should a conference discussing the body entertain papers on both impaired and sports bodies?
When we consider “history” we must ask ourselves when did history begin, and has it ended? Variabilities III is casting its nets as widely as possible, with no methodological assumptions, beginning or end dates, with as wide scope for dialogue as possible.
Come and tell us what the “body” in “history” means to you.
Organiser announce that Prof. Miriam Wallace of New College Florida will be the keynote at Variabilities III: « The Spector of the Singular Body in Frankenstein (1818): Difference and Constructed Community ».
For accessibility purposes we welcome Skype Presentations
Please send your proposal (300 words) by November 30th 2016 [extended dealine th january 2017] to
CfP – Sponsored Panel on « Gendered Experiences of Pain » at 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, 2017
Panel title: “Everybody’s (Gender) Hurts: Gendered Experiences of Pain”
Sponsored by: Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship
Conference: 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, (MI, USA), 11-14 May, 2017
Following Elaine Scarry’s (1985) seminal work The Body in Pain, researchers from various disciplines have productively studied pain as a physical phenomenon with wide-ranging emotional and socio-cultural effects (e.g. Boddice 2014; Cohen et al 2012; Davies 2014; Morris 1991; Moscoso 2012). Academics and scientist-clinicians have demonstrated that the experience of pain is highly gendered (see e.g. Bendelow 1993; Bernardes et al 2014; Hoffmann and Tarzian 2001). For example, the severity of women’s pain is often less readily accepted by medics. Women in pain are more likely to be dismissed as attention-seeking or suffering from psycho-somatic conditions than men. Painful conditions that affect many women, such as endometriosis, are woefully under-studied.
Medievalists have also analysed pain, including its’ gendered dimension, elucidating a specifically medieval construction of physical distress (see e.g. Cohen 1995, 2000, 2010; Easton 2002; Mills 2005; Mowbray, 2009). In particular, Caroline Walker Bynum’s ground-breaking feminist scholarship (see e.g. 1988, 1992) has shown the specific ways in which medieval holy women harnessed ascetic suffering as forms of empowering worship praxes.
This panel will examine the gendered experience of pain in the medieval period, engaging with, and moving beyond, the limited context of holy women established by Bynum. It will dissect the ways in which men and women experienced — or were understood to experience — pain differerently, to elucidate the wider framework of gender-specific suffering in the period. The subjective experiences of medieval men and women in pain will be unearthed, allowing their marginalised voices to add context and further urgency to contemporary debates about inadequate medical care for modern men and women in pain.
Relevant questions for this session include:
· How are the pains of “women’s complaints” — including menstruation and childbirth — depicted, and understood in the medieval era? Are other forms of physical discomfort coded as predominantly feminine – even if they have no direct biological link to womanhood? Are there similar “male” forms of pain?
· How are men and women socialised differently to understand, to contextualise, and ultimately to experience their pain? How do men and women express their pain? And share their pain with those around them? Are specific patterns of lexis, imagery, or metaphor routinely used by either men and women, or both?
· What differences can we observe between the ways in which men and women in pain are treated by medical practitioners, the religious community, and their families? What was the contemporary rationale for classifying and treating men and women’s pain differently? As a counterpoint: what similarities are there in the treatment of pain for men and women? Does the pain experience ever unite suffering men and women as a cohesive group, a group in which pain — and not gender – is the most important identity marker?
If you’re interested in speaking on this panel, please submit the following documents to the panel organiser, Alicia Spencer-Hall (a.spencer-hall [at] qmul.ac.uk), by 15 September 2017:
1) One-page abstract
2) Completed Participant Information Form (downloadable in .pdf and Word format from the Conference website)
N.B. Conference regulations stipulate that speakers may only present on one panel each year at Kalamazoo. As such, we cannot consider papers from individuals who have already submitted abstract proposals to other sessions at the conference. Nevertheless, if a paper submission is not selected for the “Gendered Experiences of Pain” panel, we will forward the submission to the Conference organisers for potential inclusion in a General Session.
Leeds IMC 2017 – Leprosy and Power
As next year’s IMC theme of ‘Otherness’ lends itself perfectly to the topic of medieval leprosy, I would like to propose a session on the subject of Leprosy and Power, following on from this year’s successful sessions about Leprosy and Identity. In this session, I would like to explore the various ways in which lepers interacted with medieval authorities – how authorities may have attempted to control the behaviour of lepers in their community, how lepers related to those in power, and how they fitted into a social hierarchy.
Possible topics could include:
· Leprosy and the elite
· Municipal authority and common law
· Canon law and the church
· The power of leprosy in society
· Lepers and social status – before / after diagnosis
Proposals should include a title, abstract (approximately 100 words), and institutional affiliation.
Please submit paper proposals by email to Katie Phillips, University of Reading – firstname.lastname@example.org – by Friday 9th September.
Call for Papers: IMC Leeds 2017
Pilgrimage: Restoring Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Health
Sponsored by the Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Reading.
The thematic strand for the next International Medieval Congress (3-6 July 2017) at University of Leeds is Otherness. We invite you to submit proposals for 20-minute papers to take part in one or more sessions on the theme of pilgrimage as a restorative process between physical, mental, and spiritual sickness and health. We are particularly interested in papers that address identifications of pilgrims as « others » who were undertaking a unique physical and spiritual journey. Relevant topics include but are not limited to:
• Miraculous healing.
• Penitential pilgrimage.
• Proxy pilgrimage.
• Pilgrimage journeys.
• Experiences of pilgrims at shrines.
• Relics and saintly intercession.
• Monastic and lay interactions with the cult of saints.
If you would like to take part in these sessions, please send an abstract of no more than 200 words as well as a short bio to email@example.com by Friday 16 September 2016.
Call for papers – Health and Medicine in the Early Medieval West – IMC Leeds 2017
We are inviting papers for sessions at IMC Leeds 2017 on Health and Medicine in the Early Medieval West. Despite important new work, early medieval medicine still remains quarantined from the mainstream of early medieval historiography. The aim of these sessions is to diagnose and treat this historiographical “otherness” by bringing health and medicine into conversation with other areas of early medieval historiography, and by using health and medicine as ways of exploring early medieval societies.
Papers on post-Roman, pre-university medicine and/or health from c.500-c.1000 are welcomed on any of the following themes:
a) Situating medical texts and traditions
Possible topics: what counts (and counted) as a medical text/tradition in the early middle ages; continuation of, adaptation of or deviation from medical traditions; manuscript contexts of medical texts; authors and audiences; social, political and/or intellectual contexts of medical learning.
b) Medical ideas outside medical texts
Possible topics: migration of ideas within or outside medical texts; bibliographical evidence (e.g. library catalogues) for medical learning; medical learning and the laity; medical metaphors; health and medicine in pastoral rhetoric; liturgy as medicinal.
c) Moving beyond texts
Possible topics: interdisciplinary approaches to early medieval health; use of aDNA, palaeopathology and bioarchaeology; material culture of health; comparative history.
d) Humans and other animals
Possible topics: animal products in medical practice; health implications of interactions between humans and animals; analogies between human and animal medicine; veterinary medicine.
If interested, please send your details, paper title and an informal abstract to Zubin Mistry (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Claire Burridge (email@example.com) by Friday 9th September. Please get in touch if you have any questions and please do pass on the CFP to anyone who may be interested.
Call for papers: Leeds International Medieval Congress 4-7 July 2016
The Medieval Landscape/Seascape
Following on from a successful strand of sessions for the last two years, it has been suggested that we continue in 2016!
Writing about the medieval landscape and environment has a rich and long tradition and is an area in which many of the disciplines that comprise medieval studies have made significant contributions. Scholars working on ideas of the landscape, concepts of space and place as well as in the developing field of environmental humanities have added to our theoretical framework for understanding people’s relationships with the environment in the past. We hope to organise a series of sessions focusing on medieval landscapes/seascapes broadly conceived. We welcome proposals that draw on historical, literary, archaeological, art-historical and musicological approaches and sources.
For 2016, we would like to focus on these themes related to landscapes/seascapes:
- Performance: Walking, perambulation, pilgrimage, plays/drama, battle rituals, movement, hunting, magic, rituals;
- Memory: Reclamation of empty places, re-use of place, how places in the past are remembered in the present, recording and memory tools, forgetting/remembering, memorials, post- Black death and spaces/place, connections to past places (e.g. ancient wells, forests);
- Journey/Journeys: Itineraries, migrations, pilgrimage, crusades, travel narratives, roads and movement to and thru places, exploration, navigation, map making;
- Food & Famine: Production, fishing, preserving, designed spaces (gardens), field usage, empty spaces post plague or famine, images of landscape/seascape in manuscripts, activities related to food.
Potential contributors might like to think about the following ideas/concepts when suggesting a paper in the above themes:
- the place of the landscape/seascape in historical writing
- landscape/maritime archaeology
- medieval urban landscapes
- the landscape of particular events
- experiencing the landscape/seascape
- tools and theories for understanding the medieval landscape/seascape: e.g. digital humanities, knowledge exchange, mapping, etc.
- different national landscape traditions, including antiquarian and chorographic traditions, and how they affect our understanding of the medieval past.
It is hoped that, through these sessions we will raise and begin to answer a number of key questions about landscapes/seascapes in the Middle Ages. What is the relationship between the experience and conceptualisation of landscapes/seascape? What gaps exist in the evidence for the landscape/seascape as a physical, economic, social and cultural phenomenon, and can interdisciplinary work help us to bridge these? What innovative methods and approaches can we bring to the study of medieval landscape/seascape?
Please send abstracts for 20 minute papers to Kimm Curran, University of Glasgow by no later than 15 September 2015. By clicking here and provide the following:
- Abstract (max 200 words)
- Your name, institution, and role
- Full postal and electronic contact details (these will be used by Leeds IMC to contact you, post the programme, etc.)
Le CESCM à Kalamazoo en 2017 – L’altérité (sociale, religieuse, politique, linguistique) et ses implications dans le domaine du visuel – 11 au 14 mai 2017
Le Centre d’études supérieures de civilisation médiévale et l’International Medieval Society-Paris lancent un appel à communication pour une session de communications organisée dans le cadre de l’International Congress on Medieval Studies qui se déroulera à Kalamazoo (USA) du 11 au 14 mai 2017 et qui réunit tous les ans dans le Michigan plus de 3000 médiévistes venus du monde entier. Cet appel conjoint est l’occasion pour le CESCM d’organiser pour la première fois un événement scientifique lors de l’ICMS, sur le thème de l’altérité (sociale, religieuse, politique, linguistique) et ses implications dans le domaine du visuel.
Les propositions de communication (CV et résumé) sont à adresser à Vincent Debiais avant le 15 septembre 2016 ; merci aussi de renseigner la fiche d’inscription de l’ICMS. Pour tout renseignement, contacter Vincent Debiais : firstname.lastname@example.org
Signs of Identity, Marks of Otherness: New Approaches to Visual Culture
This session will explore new avenues of research on visual signs marking the identity of social, religious, and political groups in different spaces (real or imaginary), and the ways in which these groups distinguished themselves. Recent advances in the auxiliary sciences, which take into account social phenomena in the origin, creation and usage of systems of signs, permit to revisit questions posed by emblems, armor, inscriptions, and images that mark the landscape and establish hierarchical spaces, both separate and connected. In the dialectic of inclusion/exclusion, signs become references of identity included, integrated, claimed or rejected in reaction to historical circumstances and power relations. This session brings together specialists from different disciplines to explore how visual signs work in real spaces, such as cities, monasteries, and castles; and literary spaces where such signs appear frequently in motifs and narratives.
This session welcomes interdisciplinary submissions. Scholars working on original approaches to signs of identity through social history, visual culture, and the auxiliary sciences are encouraged to submit abstracts. In this way, the session will have very broad appeal to participants at Kalamazoo. Possible themes are: disputes, divisions, and heraldic claims; banners, standards, and flags; epigraphic marking and destruction; the role of written culture/visual culture in the strength of social groups.