New Publication – Journal – Textual Practice Volume 30, 2016 – Issue 7: Prosthesis in Medieval and Early Modern Culture

 

Textual Practice

Volume 30, 2016

Issue 7: Prosthesis in Medieval and Early Modern Culture

Foreword [abstract]

Prosthesis, n.

  1. Grammar. The addition of a letter or syllable to the beginning of a word. […] 1553 T. Wilson Arte of Rhetorique iii. f. 94, Prosthesis. Of Addition. As thus. ‘He did all to berattle hym. Wherein appereth that a sillable is added to this vorde’ (rattle) […]

  2. a. The replacement of defective or absent parts of the body by artificial substitutes […] 1706 Phillips’s New World of Words […] In Surgery Prosthesis is taken for that which fills up what is wanting, as is to be seen in fistulous and hollow Ulcers, filled up with Flesh by that Art: Also the making of artificial Legs and Arms, when the natural ones are lost.

    (OED, s. v. ‘prosthesis’)

If we go back far enough, we find that the first acts of civilization were the use of tools […]. With every tool man is perfecting his own organs, whether motor or sensory, or is removing the limits to their functioning […]. By means of spectacles he corrects defects in the lens of his own eye […]. Writing was in its origin the voice of an absent person […]. Man has, as it were, become a kind of prosthetic God. When he puts on all his auxiliary organs he is truly magnificent; but those organs have not grown on to him and they still give him much trouble at times.11. Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, trans. Joan Riviere (London: The Hogarth Press, 1963), pp. 27–9.

(Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents)

A rhetorical ‘addition’ to a pre-existing ‘beginning’, a ‘replacement’ for that which is ‘defective or absent’, a technological, aesthetic mode of ‘correction’ that reveals a history of corporeal and psychic discontent: definitions and accounts of prosthesis turn repeatedly on the absences signalled by these ‘auxiliary organs’. Figured in prosthetic terms, the study of pre-modern prosthesis registers as an absence to which contemporary critical discourse gestures. In his seminal, cross-period study, Prosthesis, David Wills locates the Reformation as a moment of prosthetic ‘reformation’ that creates the technological, rhetorical and philosophical conditions for one type of beginning for prosthesis, marked also by the appearance of the word in Thomas Wilson’s 1553 text The Arte of Rhetorique.22. David Wills, Prosthesis (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995), pp. 219–20.View all notes And yet, as Freud’s allusion to ‘the first tools of civilization’ as prostheses suggests, this figure has a much deeper, further reaching history. This special issue brings together scholars working on medieval and early modern literature and culture in order to reconsider that history and its implications for contemporary critical responses to prosthesis.Recent scholarship across a number of disciplines has given weight to the term ‘prosthesis’ as a tool of analysis with a variety of applications: it can characterise the act of literary and cultural criticism, or the effects of literature and the reading process, and it provides a means to articulate histories and experiences of disability.

3. For example, Wills, Prosthesis; David T. Mitchell and Sharon L. Snyder, Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000); Marquard Smith and Joanne Morra (eds.), The Prosthetic Impulse: From a Posthuman Present to a Biocultural Future (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006). Prosthesis is productive for literary and disability studies in particular because it invites us to explore the intersection between language and material, embodied and imagined worlds. These explorations, however, often consider prosthesis from the perspective of (technological, rhetorical and philosophical) conditions – heart transplants, bionic limbs, the novel, cyborgs, the virtual reality of a digital age – understood to be unavailable to the pre-modern. Essays in this volume seek to redress this imbalance in our critical discourse by examining prosthesis in its pre-modern contexts and showing that the significance of this figure for medieval and early modern writers extends far beyond its reach as a grammatical term.44. More work still needs to be done on the history of the word ‘prosthesis’. We are grateful to Rick Godden for bringing to our attention the forthcoming contribution to this history by Brandon Hawk, ‘Prosthesis: From Grammar to Medicine in the Earliest History of the Word’. We ask how medieval and early modern examples can challenge our assumptions about what prosthesis is and does. Can we consider prosthesis as ‘process’, always acting, always becoming? What literary, linguistic, technological or performative practices constitute prosthetic action? How do prostheses act on and orient or construct bodies, selves and communities? Does prosthesis heal, protect, reconstruct and connect, or does it expose corporeal vulnerability and the limits of language and embodied experience? How, in turn, do medieval and early modern representations of prosthesis shape or challenge assumptions about normative bodies and bodily integrity? Does pre-modern prosthesis, in all its iterations, figure sameness or difference? Asking these questions in historical context, we show that medieval and early modern prosthesis offers to speak to – and maybe even re-assemble – our present-day discourse on this subject.

Content

Foreword, Chloe Porter, Katie L. Walter & Margaret Healy, Pages: 1205-1207

Prosthesis and reformation: the Black Rubric and the reinvention of kneeling, Isabel Davis, Pages: 1209-1231

Wearing powerful words and objects: healing prosthetics, Margaret Healy, Pages: 1233-1251

Literary genre, medieval studies, and the prosthesis of disability, Julie Orlemanski, Pages: 1253-1272

Prosthetic ecologies: vulnerable bodies and the dismodern subject in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Richard H. Godden, Pages: 1273-1290

Prosthetic encounter and queer intersubjectivity in The Merchant of Venice, Allison P. Hobgood, Pages: 1291-1308

‘Happy, and without a name’: prosthetic identities on the early modern stage, Naomi Baker, Pages: 1309-1326

Prosthesis and the performance of beginnings in The Woman in the Moon, Chloe Porter, Pages: 1327-1344

Fragments for a medieval theory of prosthesis, Katie L. Walter, Pages: 1345-1363

 

Find more info and all articles on the journal’s website

CFP – ‘“Why is my pain perpetual?” (Jer 15:18): Chronic Pain in the Middle Ages’ – London – 29 september 2017

Conference: ‘“Why is my pain perpetual?” (Jer 15:18): Chronic Pain in the Middle Ages’
Location: Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London, London, UK
Date: Friday, 29 September 2017

Extended deadline : Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Pain is a universal human experience. We have all hurt at some point, felt that inescapable sensory challenge to our physical equanimity, our health and well-being compromised. Typically, our agonies are fleeting. For some, however, suffering becomes an artefact of everyday living: our pain becomes ‘chronic’. Chronic pain is persistent, usually lasting for three months or more, does not respond well to analgesia, and does not improve after the usual healing period of any injury.
Following Elaine Scarry’s (1985) seminal work The Body in Pain, researchers from various humanities disciplines have productively studied pain as a physical phenomenon with wide-ranging emotional and socio-cultural effects. Medievalists have also analysed acute pain, elucidating a specifically medieval construction of physical distress. In almost all such scholarship – modern and medieval – chronic pain has been overlooked.
The new field of medieval disability studies has also neglected chronic pain as a primary object of study. Instead, disability scholars in the main focus on ‘visible’ and ‘mainstream’ disabilities, such as blindness, paralysis, and birth defects. Indeed, disability historian Beth Linker argued in 2013 that ‘[m]ore historical attention should be paid to the unhealthy disabled’, including those in chronic pain (‘On the Borderland’, 526). This conference seeks specifically to pay ‘historical attention’ to chronic pain in the medieval era. It will bring together researchers from across disciplines working on chronic pain, functioning as a collaborative space for medievalists to enter into much-needed conversations on this highly overlooked area of scholarship.

Prof Esther Cohen (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), one of the foremost scholars on pain in the Middle Ages, will deliver the keynote address at the conference.

Relevant topics for this conference include:
· Medieval conceptions and theories of chronic pain, as witnessed by scientific, medical, and theological works
· Paradigms of chronic pain developed in modern scholarship – and what medievalists can learn from, and contribute to, them
· Comparative analyses of chronic pain in religious versus secular narratives
· Recognition or rejection of chronic pain as an affirmative subjective identity
· Chronic pain and/as disability
· The potential share-ability of pain in medieval narratives, such as texts which show an individual taking on the pain of another
· The relationship between affect and the severity, understanding, and experience of pain
· The manner in which gender impacts the experience, expression, and management of an individual’s chronic pain

If you’re interested in speaking at the conference, please submit an abstract of 250-300 words and a brief bio to the organiser, Alicia Spencer-Hall (a.spencer-hall [at] qmul.ac.uk), by 15 January 2017. Please also stipulate your audio-visual requirements in your submission (e.g. projector, speakers, and so forth).

NB Speakers will need to register for the conference in due course. The registration fee is £20. The fee is waived completely for concessions (students, the unwaged, retired scholars).

If you have any queries, including access requirements, please do not hesitate to contact the organiser.

This conference contributes to the ‘Sense and Sensation’ research strand at UCL’s Institute of Advanced Studies. This strand also comprises a Reading Group focused on chronic pain. To join the Reading Group, please email the organiser, Alicia Spencer-Hall.

More info on Alicia’s blog

CFP – International Medieval Society – Evil

EVIL

ims-paris

Paris, 29 June- 1 July 2017

For its 14th Annual Symposium, the International Medieval Society invites abstracts on the theme of Evil in the Middle Ages. The concept of evil, and the tensions it reveals about the relationship between internal and external identities, fits well into recent trends in scholarship that have focused attention on medieval bodies, boundaries, and otherness. Medieval bodies frequently blur the distinctions between moral and non-moral evil. External, monstrous appearances are often seen as testament to internal dispositions, and illnesses might be seen as a reflection of a person’s evil nature. More generally, evil may stand in for an entire, contrasting ideological viewpoint, as much as for a particular kind of behaviour, action, or being. It may appear in the world through intentional acts, as well as through accidental occurrences, through demonic intervention as much as through human weakness and sin. It may be rooted in anger, spread through violence, or thrive on ignorance, emerging from either the natural world or from mankind.

Alongside those working on bodies and monstrosity, the question of evil has also preoccupied scholars working to understand the limits of moral responsibility and the links between destiny and decision as shown in medieval literary, artistic and historical productions. The 14th Annual IMS Symposium on Evil aims to focus on the many facets of medieval evil, analysing the intersections between evil as concept and form, as well as taking into account medieval responses to evil and its potential effects.

This Symposium will thus explore (but is not limited to) three broad themes:

1)    Concepts of evil: discourse on morality and moral understandings of evil; reflections on the relationship between good and evil; heresy and heretical beliefs, teachings, writings; evil and sin; evil and conscience; associations with hell, the devil; types of evil behaviour or evil thoughts; categories of evil; evil as disorder/chaos; evil as corruption; evil and mankind

2)    Embodied evil/being evil/evil beings: monstrosity; the demonic; perceptions of deformity and disfigurement; evil transformations and metamorphoses; magic and the supernatural; outward expressions of evil (e.g. through clothing, material possessions); evil objects

3)    Responses to evil: punishments; the purging and/or exorcism of evil; inquisition; evil speech; warnings about evil (textual, visual, musical); ways to avoid evil or to protect oneself (talismans etc.); the temptation of evil; emotional responses to evil; social exclusion as a response to evil.

Through these broad themes, we aim to encourage the participation of researchers with varying backgrounds and fields of expertise: historians, art historians, musicologists, philologists, literary specialists, and specialists in the auxiliary sciences (palaeographers, epigraphists, codicologists, numismatists). While we focus on medieval France, compelling submissions focused on other geographical areas that also fit the conference theme are welcome and encouraged. By bringing together a wide variety of papers that both survey and explore this field, the IMS Symposium intends to bring a fresh perspective to the notion of evil in medieval culture.

Proposals of no more than 300 words (in English or French) for a 20-minute paper should be e-mailed to communications.ims.paris@gmail.com by November 5th 2016. Each should be accompanied by full contact information, a CV, and a list of the audio-visual equipment that you require.

Please be aware that the IMS-Paris submissions review process is highly competitive and is carried out on a strictly anonymous basis. The selection committee will email applicants in late November to notify them of its decision. Titles of accepted papers will be made available on the IMS-Paris website. Authors of accepted papers will be responsible for their own travel costs and conference registration fee (35 euros, reduced for students, free for IMS-Paris members).

The IMS-Paris is an interdisciplinary, bilingual (French/English) organisation that fosters exchanges between French and foreign scholars. For the past ten years, the IMS has served as a centre for medievalists who travel to France to conduct research, work, or study.

For more information about the IMS-Paris and past symposia programmes, please visit our website: www.ims-paris.org.

IMS-Paris Graduate Student Prize:
The IMS-Paris is pleased to offer one prize for the best paper proposal by a graduate student. Applications should consist of:
1) a symposium paper abstract
2) an outline of a current research project (PhD. dissertation research)
3) the names and contact information of two academic referees

The prize-winner will be selected by the board and a committee of honorary members, and will be notified upon acceptance to the Symposium. An award of 350 euros to support international travel/accommodation (within France, 150 euros) will be paid at the Symposium.