New book – Disease and Disability in Medieval and Early Modern Art and Literature, eds. Rinaldo F. Canalis and Massimo Ciavolella – Brepols, April 2021.

 
 
Humanity has always shown a keen interest in the pathological, ranging from a morbid fascination with ‘monsters’ and deformities to a genuine compassion for the ill and suffering. Medieval and early modern people were no exception, expressing their emotional response to disease in both literary works and, to a somewhat lesser extent, in the plastic arts. Consequently, it becomes necessary to ask what motivated writers and artists to choose an illness or a disability and its physical and social consequences as subjects of aesthetic or intellectual expression. Were these works the result of an intrusion in their intent to faithfully reproduce nature, or do they reflect an intentional contrast against the pre-modern portrayal of spiritual ideals and, later, through the influence of the classics, the rediscovered importance and beauty of the human body?
The essays contained in this volume address these questions, albeit not always directly but, rather, through an analysis of the societal reactions to the threats and challenges that essentially unopposed disease and physical impairment presented. They cover a wide range of responses, variable, of course, according to the period under scrutiny, its technological moment, and the usually fruitless attempts at treatment.
 

CONTENTS:

  • Introduction and Epidemiological Perspective — Rinaldo F. Canalis and Massimo Ciavolella
 

Part I. Medieval and Transitional Periods

 
  • The Art of Medicine in Byzantium: Disease and Disability in Byzantine Manuscripts — Alain Touwaide
  • Miracle and the Monstrous: Disability and Deviant Bodies in the Late Middle Ages — Jenni Kuuliala
  • Leprosy, Melancholy, Folly and their Representations in French Medieval Literature — Gaia Gubini
  • Malady in Literary Texts from the Medieval and Early Modern Periods. Some Hypotheses on a Paradoxical Constellation — Joachim Küpper
  • Fevers, Botches and Carbuncles: Describing the Plague in Late Medieval and Early Modern Medical Treatises — Lori Jones
 

Part II. The Early Modern Period

 
  • The Role of Architecture and the Decorative Arts in Renaissance Medicine — Francis Wells
  • Art in Disease and Disease in Art: Reflections on Two Early Modern Paradigmatic Examples — Manuela Gallerani
  • The Mal Franzoso: Between Art, History and Literature: Paracelso and Della Porta — Alfonso Paolella
  • The Ailing Artist — Roberto Fedi
  • Nicolas Poussin`s The Plague at Ashdod and the French Disease — Efrain Kristal
  • ‘Yet have I in me something dangerous’: On the Interplay of Medicine and Maleficence in Shakespeare’s Hamlet — Sara Frances Burdorff
  • Textures of Lesions – Textures of Prints — Domenico Bertoloni Meli 

 

More info on the editor website

Workshop – Power, Piety and Plague: the Northern Church in the 14th Century, by Medieval Studies Research Group, Lincoln – 22 April

About this Event

The Medieval Studies Research Group (University of Lincoln), The Northern Way, and the Lincoln Record Society invite you to join us for this free, interactive workshop. No experience necessary.

This workshop will explore some of the riches contained within the Registers that were used to record the business of the Archbishops’ of York in the fourteenth century, an era of political turmoil, almost incessant warfare and climatic and public health catastrophes.

‘“The Northern Way”: the Archbishops of York and the North of England, 1304 – 1405’ is an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded research project run by the Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York, in partnership with The National Archives (TNA). ‘The Northern Way’ seeks to make the content from the 16 Registers for this period, alongside related documents from TNA, more easily searchable and accessible through the development of a digital resource. The workshop will demonstrate how the resource and index can shed light on a range of topics and previously hidden histories about, principally, the North of England but also about the employment and influence of clerks from Lincolnshire in running the diocese of York and the government of England.

You will find out more about Archbishop Melton’s reaction to the, now notorious, Joan of Leeds, a nun from the Priory of St Clements, York. In 1318, with the help of her fellow nuns, Joan faked her own death and buried a dummy of her body, so that she could run away to Beverley and allegedly live a life of ‘carnal lust’. These Registers can provide insights into the religious and political role of the province and its relationship with central government, as well as give fascinating insights into culture, society and piety.

Dr Paul Dryburgh and Dr Marianne Wilson (The Northern Way and Lincoln Record Society)

Link to register

New book – Writing Old Age and Impairments in Late Medieval England by Will Rogers, ed. by Arc Humanities Press

Writing Old Age and Impairments in Late Medieval England

A ground-breaking study of old age impairments in Middle English literature and their function as prosthetic additions, which draw attention both to the debility of old age and its ability to complete and drive narrative.

Description

The old speaker in Middle English literature often claims to be impaired because of age. This admission is often followed by narratives that directly contradict it, as speakers, such as the Reeve in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales or Amans in Gower’s Confessio Amantis, proceed to perform even as they claim debility. More than the modesty topos, this contradiction exists, the book argues, as prosthesis: old age brings with it debility, but discussing age-related impairments augments the old, impaired body, while simultaneously undercutting and emphasizing bodily impairments. This language of prosthesis becomes a metaphor for the works these speakers use to fashion narrative, which exist as incomplete yet powerful sources.

Contents

Introduction: Staves and Stanzas
 
Chapter 1: Crooked as a Staff: Narrative, History, and the Disabled Body in Parlement of Thre Ages
 
Chapter 2: A Reckoning with Age: Prosthetic Violence and the Reeve
 
Chapter 3: The Past is Prologue: Following the Trace of Master Hoccleve
 
Chapter 4: Playing Prosthesis and Revising the Past: Gower’s Supplemental Role
 
Epilogue: Impotence and Textual Healing
 
 

New book – Leprosy and identity in the Middle Ages: From England to the Mediterranean, eds. Elma Brenner and François-Olivier Touati – Manchester University Press, April 2021.

 
For the first time, this volume explores the identities of leprosy sufferers and other people affected by the disease in medieval Europe. The chapters, including contributions by leading voices such as Luke Demaitre, Carole Rawcliffe and Charlotte Roberts, challenge the view that people with leprosy were uniformly excluded and stigmatised. Instead, they reveal the complexity of responses to this disease and the fine line between segregation and integration. Ranging across disciplines, from history to bioarchaeology, Leprosy and identity in the Middle Ages encompass post-medieval perspectives as well as the attitudes and responses of contemporaries. Subjects include hospital care, diet, sanctity, miraculous healing, diagnosis, iconography and public health regulation. This richly illustrated collection presents previously unpublished archival and material sources from England to the Mediterranean.
 

CONTENTS:

 
Introduction – Elma Brenner and François-Olivier Touati
 
Part I: Approaching leprosy and identity
 
  • Reflections on the bioarchaeology of leprosy and identity, past and present – Charlotte Roberts
  • Lepers and leprosy: connections between East and West in the Middle Ages – François-Olivier Touati
  • The disease and the sacred: the leper as a scapegoat in England and Normandy (eleventh-twelfth centuries) – Damien Jeanne
 
Part II: Within the leprosy hospital: between segregation and integration
 
  • ‘A mighty force in the ranks of Christ’s army’: intercession and integration in the medieval English leper hospital – Carole Rawcliffe
  • Saint Mary Magdalen, Winchester: the archaeology and history of an English leprosarium and almshouse – Simon Roffey
  • Diet as a marker of identity in the leprosy hospitals of medieval northern France – Elma Brenner
 
Part III: Beyond the leprosy hospital: the language of poverty and charity
 
  • Good people, poor sick: the social identities of lepers in the late medieval Rhineland – Lucy Barnhouse
  • The clapper as ‘vox miselli’: new perspectives on iconography – Luke Demaitre
 
Part IV: Religious and social identities
 
  • Kissing lepers: Saint Francis and the treatment of lepers in the central Middle Ages – Courtney A. Krolikoski
  • From pilgrim to knight, from monk to bishop: the distorted identities of leprosy within the Order of Saint Lazarus – Rafaël Hyacinthe
  • Connotation and denotation: the construction of the leper in Narbonne and Siena before the plague – Anna M. Peterson
 
Part V: Post-medieval perspectives
 
  • ‘Our loathsome ancestors’: reinventing medieval leprosy for the modern world, 1850-1950 – Kathleen Vongsathorn and Magnus Vollset.
 
 

Call for papers – ‘Ecologies of Healing in the Premodern World (600-1350 CE)’ – Edinburgh, 9-10 Sept 2022.

Yet, how these diverse pieces can be assembled into a cohesive picture of medicine, health and healing within, let alone across, societies before c.1350 remains to be worked out. Ecologies of Healing invites scholars working on premodern Asian, African and European societies to do just that. The conference’s key goal is to piece together how interactions and demarcations between ideas, practices, practitioners, materials and settings of healing ultimately coalesced within the medical ecosystems of premodern societies. Ecologies of Healing also seeks to sharpen our chronologies by paying attention to how and why medical ecosystems have changed or stayed the same over time, and to promote further the global history of premodern medicine by exploring cross-cultural connections and comparisons between the medical ecosystems characteristic of distinct premodern societies.  

We welcome papers on premodern health, medicine and healing, including in the following areas: 

  • Medical epistemologies and knowledge communities; (re)constructions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ knowledge and practice 
  • Practical repercussions, and limitations of, learned medicine 
  • Competing, converging and coexisting practices of healing and healthcare work, including through patient as well as practitioner perspectives 
  • Economies of healing and the social settings of medicine, including the significance of environment, urban/rural geographies and domestic healthcare 
  • Roles of cross-cultural interactions and knowledge transfer in shaping practices of medicine 
  • Stratified healing, including the impact of wealth, status, ethnicity, religious affiliation and gender on participation in knowledge communities and access to healing 
  • Interfaces between animal and human healthcare 

Keynote speaker: 

Anthony Cerulli, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Confirmed speakers: 

Carmen Caballero Navas, University of Granada

Asaf Goldschmidt, Tel Aviv University

Ahmed Ragab, Williams College

Richard Sowerby, University of Edinburgh

Sethina Watson, University of York

Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim, Goldsmiths, University of London

The dates are preliminary and we will be able to confirm the final dates once we know more about the likely picture of the pandemic in 2022. Our aim is to hold a face-to-face event and we would cover the costs of three nights’ accommodation in Edinburgh. All papers will be pre-circulated among participants two months in advance of the conference, where each speaker will give a shorter presentation (around 15 minutes) outlining the paper’s key contentions followed by responses and open discussion. We are looking for papers dealing with original and previously unpublished material because our aim is that, ultimately, extended versions of the papers will form a peer-reviewed edited volume, Ecologies of Healing in the Premodern World. The final version of the papers in the volume will not exceed 10,000 words including footnotes.

Scholars are invited to submit abstracts of ca. 300 words to petros.bouras-vallianatos@ed.ac.uk and zubin.mistry@ed.ac.uk by 31 August 2021.