Charms (understood as ritual means of addressing situations of sickness, stress, and anxiety by way of a combination of special language and special actions) are universal across human societies. Early manuscripts in Latin and various vernacular languages contain several examples of healing charms that blur the lines between magic and science. Medical thinking informs literary production worldwide, from its ancient beginnings to modern times. In the present day, people routinely consult specialists in naturopathy, Ayurveda, and traditional Chinese medicine alongside, or in preference to, modern, scientific medicine.
Not only does the study of healing charms and other medical beliefs and practices have the potential to yield insight into traditional and historical systems of knowledge, but such study often has major implications for modern medicine. Charms can lead to the development of new medication and procedures, as when researchers from the University of Nottingham discovered that a charm from the 9th century Anglo Saxon manuscript “Bald’s Leechbook” proved effective in eradicating strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Pharmaceutical companies spend significant amount of money on researching the traditional pharmocopiae of indigenous cultures across the planet in order to develop new drugs.
Because of the broad nature of this topic, this conference aims to bring together researchers whose work spans a broad range of areas, time periods, and disciplinary approaches. The nature of this conference brings together the study of medicine, science, and religion, thereby bridging gaps between disciplines and uncovering connections between the traditions of various cultures.
The Department of Celtic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University, with support from the Committee for the Provostial Fund for the Arts and Humanities, is proud to host “Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Healing Charms and Medicine,” an interdisciplinary conference to be held at Harvard University from April 6-8, 2018, which aims to present innovative and cross-disciplinary approaches to the study of healing charms and medicine across a wide range of cultures and geographic areas, from antiquity up to the modern period.
Keynote speakers will be Dr. Jacqueline Borsje (University of Amsterdam) and Prof. Richard Kieckhefer (Northwestern University).
We invite proposals for papers on any aspect of the study of healing charms and traditional medicine, in any time period or location, from any disciplinary approach, including, but not limited to, folklore, history of science, medieval studies, religious studies, medicine, and anthropology.
Papers should be 20 minutes long, with a 10 minute period following the paper for questions. Proposals should include a title, an abstract of 200-300 words, and a short speaker biography, and should be sent to hcm@. Please send submissions either in the body of the email or as an attached word document.
Abstracts due Tuesday October 25th, 2017
Mor info on the conference website.
The 2017–18 series – organised by a group of historians of medicine based at London universities and hosted by the Wellcome Library – will commence with four seminars in the autumn term.
The series will be focused on pre-modern medicine, which we take to cover European and extra-European history before the 20th century (antiquity, medieval and early modern history, some elements of 19th-century medicine). The seminars are open to all.
Tuesday 10 October 2017 – Dr Elma Brenner (Wellcome Collection), ‘Leprosy and diet in medieval Normandy’
Tuesday 24 October 2017 – Dr Benedetta Lomi (University of Bristol), ‘The uses of ox-bezoar in pre-modern Japan in ritual and medical practices’
Tuesday 7 November 2017 – Dr Michael Brown (University of Roehampton), ‘Anxiety and compassion: emotions and the surgical encounter in early 19th-century Britain’
Tuesday 21 November 2017 – Professor Roberta Gilchrist (University of Reading), ‘The archaeology of monastic healing: spirit, mind and body’
All seminars will take place in the Wellcome Library, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE. Doors at 6pm prompt, seminars will start at 6.15pm.
The programme for January–March 2018 will follow in the new year.
Organising Committee: Elma Brenner (Wellcome Collection), Michael Brown (Roehampton), Elena Carrera (QMUL), Sandra Cavallo (RHUL), John Henderson (Birkbeck, London), William MacLehose (UCL), Anna Maerker (KCL), Patrick Wallis (LSE), Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim (Goldsmiths).
Enquiries to Ross MacFarlane (R.MacFarlane@wellcome.ac.uk).
Link to the Wellcome Library website.
The Maladies, Miracles and Medicine of the Middle Ages, II. Places, Spaces and Objects
The Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Reading Friday 23. March 2018.
As medievalists, we access our period through the written records, sites, and items that survive in order to form a deeper understanding of the period, one that goes beyond the page or the ruinous buildings that remain today. Using a wide range of sources is particularly valuable when considering the miraculous and the medicinal. After all, it is not just the writings, but the spaces, places and objects of both healthcare and of the holy which can inform and shape our research, and than of understanding. Indeed, in many instances these two elements combine, as can be seen through the production of miracle cures, the monastic collections of medical treatises, and medieval hospitals and monastic infirmaries.
But, what can these sources tell us of miracles, of medicine, of maladies? How did the miraculous and the medicinal relate to and/or oppose each other? What can we learn of faith and the faithful, and of ill-health and healing? It is questions such as these which the second ‘Maladies, Miracles and Medicine’ conference considers by bringing together post-graduate and early-career researchers who work on all aspects of the healing and the holy. The conference welcomes papers on all aspects of this theme whether your interests lie in archaeology, art, literature, medicine and science, or miracles and theology (or a little bit of everything). Particular themes to consider are:
- Pilgrims as ‘patients’ and miraculous medicine
- Hospitals, hospices and infirmaries as places of cure and places of piety
- Objects of healing and/or objects of faith
- Landscapes and locations of religion and remedy
- The written word as place, space, or object of cure or of faith
- Personal devotion and home-based healthcare
Proposals for twenty-minute papers fitting broadly into one of the above themes are welcomed from all post-graduate and early-career researchers before the deadline, 5. January 2018. Proposals of no more than 200 words, and further enquiries are to be sent to the organisers, Dr Ruth Salter and Frances Cook, via: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be aware that further details will be released closer to the date.
Leprosy and the Leper Reconsidered
Montreal, 20-22 September 2018
They are pleased to announce the call for papers for Leprosy and the Leper Reconsidered, which will take place at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. This is an interdisciplinary and trans-historical conference which seeks both to unite and to broaden the discourse on leprosy sufferers and leprosy. In this way, this conference aims to highlight and discuss the presence of leprosy not only across time, but also across physical borders and spaces. Indeed, this conference aims to erase such boundaries in order to foster a more encompassing discussion of such a global disease. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is a growing need to address leprosy within an interdisciplinary framework in order to expand our understanding of changing discourse, medical, social, and popular, surrounding the disease and the afflicted.
The conference will have plenary talks from Susan Burns (University of Chicago) and Luke Demaitre (University of Virginia).
They invite proposals for papers of approximately 20 minutes or posters that engage with the themes of leprosy sufferers, leprosy, and perceptions of the disease from various disciplinary approaches, such as history, literature, art history, archaeology, anthropology, bioarchaeology, material culture, or others. Possible topics may include, but are by no means limited to:
- Cultural responses to leprosy
- Changing perceptions of leprosy
- Religious understandings of leprosy
- Colonial and Post-Colonial approaches to the regulation of leprosy sufferers
- Leprosy in popular culture (e.g. books, film, etc.)
- Physicians responses to leprosy
- Missions and missionaries
- The lexicon of leprosy
- Material culture surrounding leprosy sufferers and medical responses to leprosy.
Those wishing to participate should please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words, a brief bio and a one-page CV to email@example.com no later than 20 October 2017. They ask that you indicate whether you would like to be considered as a speaker or to present a poster. Please attach your documents as either a Microsoft Word or PDF file and include your name and home institution on all files. For further information please check their website or on Twitter.
Please find the twitter thread of the all conference organised by Alicia Spencer-Hall at the IAS, UCLondon on the 29th September in the following link.
Medieval Bodies Ignored: Politics, Culture & Flesh
University of Leeds, Institute For Medieval Studies
Friday 4th to Sunday 6th May 2018
This interdisciplinary conference will concentrate upon the cultural history of the body, particularly that relating to bodies that are ignored, by either medieval society or modern scholarship. This conference is interested in building up a sensory and somatic understanding of daily corporeal existence in the Middle Ages, with a particular focus on those elements of medieval society that are both seen and unseen. The weary carthorse, the one-legged beggar and the cradle-bound child were all bodies that were ubiquitous and thus/yet invisible; by attempting to access those elements of this landscape that were tacitly understood at the time, but difficult for the modern scholar to access, this conference hopes to encourage a richer understanding of the complexity of medieval life and culture.
Abstract submissions from a variety of disciplines are encouraged and we hope to be able to curate an exchange of ideas, strategies and theories with which we can develop a methodological support structure for interdisciplinary cultural studies.
— Marginalised bodies (Socially, physically, legally)
— The body politic
— Seeing the unseen
— Knowledge of the body and bodily customs
— Artisans of the body, expanding notions of health and medicine
— The ignored body in space and place (e.g. war, urban/ rural, court/ Cloister)
— Ignored bodies: Dead, dis / abled, sacred, non—human animal, child, supernatural, female, racially othered, or otherwise overlooked due to status
— Methodological tactics for studying the overlooked body
Please submit abstracts for 20 min paper (max 300 words) by 28th February 2018 midday GMT to Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Medieval Bodies Ignored
CfP IMC 2018: Deadline 31St August 2017
Since Caroline Walker Bynum’s 1995 article ‘Why All the Fuss
About the Body?’, the discussion around bodies as historical
bodies has flourished. In these sessions, the intent is to pick out,
from ‘the cacophony of discourses’ that medieval people used to
discuss the body, a few of the notes that are sometimes
overlooked. Discussion post—Caroline Walker Bynum has often
focused on the human body, but her work has also opened up a
wider examination of the ways in which non —human bodies were
conceptualised. Non-human animals, environmental bodies and
socio-political bodies are all discussed in relation to humans and
the non-human body. Equally, humans could also be discussed in
relation to non-human bodies, either in a positive or a derogatory
sense. These sessions will explore how human and non-human
bodies have influenced each other during the Middle Ages and in
scholarship. By examining these seemingly separate discourses in
concert with one another the impact of ideas around
embodiment upon the study of the Middle Ages is revealed and parallels and connections can be exploited.
‘ Discourses around human and non-human animal bodies:
scientiﬁc, literary, juridico—legal.
‘ Concepts of environmental bodies: bodies of water,
geological and geographical bodies, human / non—human
‘ Political and social bodies: the body politic, the politicised
body, guilds and professional bodies, military bodies.
The deadline for 200 – 300 word abstracts is 31st August 2017. Please email: email@example.com. And follow them on Twitter: @BodiesIgnored
#disIMC: Current Challenges to Accessibility and Ways Forward
At the IMC 2017, Medievalists with Disabilities hosted its first event. #disIMC was a bring your own lunch affair, slotted into the timetable at the last minute. It was a great success, and marked the beginning of the Medievalists with Disabilities (#dismed) network. We are now moving into more official outlets for discussion, and are putting together a Roundtable for IMC 2018.
We invite abstracts for 5 minute talks as part of a roundtable discussion about accessibility in Higher Education and ways that we can address issues. We take the term disabilities in the broadest possible sense, incorporating invisible and visible conditions, chronic illness and mental health to name but a few. Papers might address issues individuals have overcome in Higher Education, discuss what it is like to be in HE with a disability/chronic condition, or pinpoint an issue that needs addressing.
Please send an abstract of no more than 150 words outlining your talk to firstname.lastname@example.org by August 20th [deadline extended : 15 september !]
Erin Connelly discussed her research involving the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, combined with a severely stalled discovery pipeline for new antibiotics.
Speaker Biography: Erin Connelly is the CLIR-Mellon Fellow for Data Curation in medieval studies in the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts (Penn Libraries).