Conference – Experiences of Dis/ability from the Late Middle Ages to the Mid-Twentieth Century 22 – 23 August 2019, Tampere University, Finland

Please download the updated conference programme in PDF format here.

Abstracts in alphabetical order can be downloaded here.



Location: Linna building (address: Kalevantie 5), ground floor: lecture halls K103 & K109

(Kalevantie street entrance: one floor down; Pinninkatu street entrance: lecture halls on the entrance floor to the left)


15.15 Coffee and registration – Linna building: ground floor
15.45 Welcome – Lecture hall K103
16.00 Keynote I: David Lederer: Miracle Books as Sources of Early Modern Experiences of Disabilities – Lecture hall K103   Chair: Sari Katajala-Peltomaa
17.00-19.00 Sessions I (2 sessions)
1A Disabled lives I Chair: Hanna Lindberg – Lecture hall K103

Corinne Ball: Fringe dwellers – Experiences of Disability at South Australia’s Destitute Asylum

Kirsi Tuohela: Mental Disability in the 1930s Finland, The Case of Aino Manner (1893-1956)

Marcin Stasiak: “Look! He is a Cripple, But He Can Climb Trees!” Childhood in Life Stories of People with Polio-Related Impairments – Polish Case

1B Revisiting concepts and conceptions  Chair: David Lederer – Lecture hall K109

Adleen Crapo: Choosing Their Words Carefully: Lexicography to Explore Early Modern Experiences of Disability

Patrick McDonagh: Romantic Ideology and the Conceptualization of Idiocy

Simon Jarrett: Myths of Marginality: Locating the Idiot in the Eighteenth Century

Mari Eyice: The Outer Periphery of Empathy – Disability and Emotional Practices in Early Modern Sweden

ca. 19.00-21.00 Evening get-together (Tampere University main building: café-lounge Toivo, address: Kalevantie 4, 2nd floor)

THURSDAY 22 August

9.00 Coffee and registration – Linna building: ground floor
9.30 Keynote II: Donna Trembinski: Disability, Trauma and Conversion in the Lives of Early Franciscan Saints – Lecture hall K103 Chair: Riikka Miettinen
10.30-12.30 Sessions II
2A Religious practice and experiences

Chair: Raisa Toivo – Lecture hall K103

Annette Volfing: Linguistic Impairment and Mystical Status – The Revelations of Margaretha Ebner

Ninon Dubourg: Religiosity and Disability in the Papal Letters (13th and 14th Centuries)

Michael Riordan: Blind Devotion: Sight-Loss and Religion in Early Modern Britain

Sari Katajala-Peltomaa: (Dis)abling Practices: Saints, Demons and Maniacs in the Late Middle Ages

2B Representations     Chair: Daniel Blackie – Lecture hall K109

Virginia Langum: “Tried to make you something you’re not”: Disability History and Historical Fiction

Sara Scalenghe: Visual Representations of Disability in the Late Ottoman Empire

Arndís Bergsdóttir: Mining for Dis/abled Lives in Museum Archives and Coming up with Unruly Matters of Absence

12.30-13.45 Lunch (Restaurant Aleksis, address: Kalevantie 2)
13.45-14.45 Session III: Doing disability history I  Chair: Pertti Haapala – Lecture hall K103

Lotta Vikström: Disability and Partnership in Sweden from Past to Present

Nele Reyniers & Pieter Verstraete: Rethinking ‘Experience’ in the History of Children with Mental Disability

15.00-17.00 Sessions IV    
4A Military and veterans I   Chair: Tuomas Laine-Frigren – Lecture hall K103

Geoffrey L. Hudson: Gender, Social Negotiation & Disabled Ex-servicemen in England, 1600–1800

Anthony Farrell: Disabled veterans of the First World War in Ireland and the Irish Free State 1914 to 1945

Virva Liski: Mental Disability among Veterans of the Finnish Civil War in 1918–1939

4B Disability and legal cultures Chair: Raisa Toivo – Lecture hall K109

Ashley Elrod: Debating Incompetence: Law and the Lived Experience of Disability in Early Modern Germany

Lola Digard: Alleviate and Compensate: The Office des Paiseurs in the County of Flanders in the late Middle Ages

Hanna Bjorg Sigurjonsdottir: Disability, Punishments and Poverty in Iceland (1500–1800)

Jenni Kuuliala & Riikka Miettinen: Searching for Experiences in Late Medieval and Early Modern Legal Documents

17.00 Coffee
17.15-18.45 Sessions V    
5A Military and veterans II Chair: Ville Kivimäki – Lecture hall K103

Catherine Beck: Unserviceable, Being Insane: Mental Disability and Difference in the Eighteenth-Century British Navy

Tuomas Laine-Frigren: Adjusting Emotions. Psychosocial Rehabilitation of Finnish Brain-injured Soldiers in the 1940s-1950s

Tom Probert: ‘[A]n adventure into mental illness’: Psychiatry and Stigma during Britain’s postwar period of decolonisation

5B Disabled lives II      Chair: Hanna Lindberg – Lecture hall K109

Stan Booth: Richard Steele: A Life Well Lived

Chris Mounsey: Documenting the Life of Thomas Gills, Blind Man of St Edmundsbury

Sólveig Ólafsdóttir: The Shelter from the Storm

20.00- Conference dinner for speakers (Restaurant Tampella, address: Kelloportinkatu 1)


FRIDAY 23 August

9.30-11.30 Sessions VI    
6A Disabilities in the Middle Ages I Chair: Jenni Kuuliala – Lecture hall K103

Oana Maria Cojocaru: Disabled Children and their (In)visible Experiences in Byzantium

Heidi Russenberger: Disability, Bodies, and Identities in Fourteenth Century Canonisation Inquests

Catriona McKenzie & Eileen M. Murphy: Considering Care: Flexion Deformities in the Gaelic Medieval Population of Ballyhanna, Co. Donegal, Ireland

Elin Ahlin-Sundman: The Perfect Body: A Case Study of Clerical Masculinities and Male Bodies in Late Medieval Iceland

6B The disabled and the state in the 20th century Chair: Pirjo Markkola – Lecture hall K109

Anna Derksen: The Nordic Disability Movements and Experiences of Charity and Welfare in the Mid-20th Century

Rabia Belt: Disabling Democracy in America: Disability, Citizenship, Suffrage and the Law, 1819–1920

Radu-Harald Dinu: Disability under Communism in Eastern Europe. What we know and what we don’t know

11.30-12.30 Keynote III: David Turner: Disability and Political Activism in the British Industrial Revolution – Lecture hall K103   Chair: Pertti Haapala
12.30-13.45 Lunch (Restaurant Aleksis, address: Kalevantie 2)
13.45-15.15 Sessions VII  
7A Disabilities in the Middle Ages II     Chair: Donna Trembinski – Lecture hall K103

Haraldur Þór Hammer Haraldsson: Lived Lives of the Different Bodied Dead

Christopher Crocker: Disability and Dreams in the Medieval Icelandic Sagas

Eva Thórdís Ebenezersdóttir: Differently Human or Simply Supernatural


7B Human rights     Chair: Ville Kivimäki – Lecture hall K109

Klaudia Muca: Between Two Wars. Experience of Disability in 1918–1939 in Poland

Maija Koivisto: Eugenic, Deaf Women, Marriage Law, Sterilization and Abortions in Finland 1929–1969

Hanna Lindberg: Being a Minority within a Minority. The Case of the Finland-Swedish Deaf in the mid-20th Century

15.15-16.15 Session VIII: Doing disability history II      Chair: David Turner – Lecture hall K103

Shawn M. Phillips: A Comparison of Home and Institutional Care in the US (1850–1950): Osteobiography as a Method to Recover the Dependent and Disabled Experience

Cora Šalkovskis: Speaking of without speaking for: Anonymity, Ethics, the Dead, and the Psychiatric Historian


ca. 16.15- Closing & coffee

 Conference website:

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