Living with Disfigurement in Early Medieval Europe
by Patricia Skinner
This book examines social and medical responses to the disfigured face in early medieval Europe, arguing that the study of head and facial injuries can offer a new contribution to the history of early medieval medicine and culture, as well as exploring the language of violence and social interactions. Despite the prevalence of warfare and conflict in early medieval society, and a veritable industry of medieval historians studying it, there has in fact been very little attention paid to the subject of head wounds and facial damage in the course of war and/or punitive justice. The impact of acquired disfigurement —for the individual, and for her or his family and community—is barely registered, and only recently has there been any attempt to explore the question of how damaged tissue and bone might be treated medically or surgically. In the wake of new work on disability and the emotions in the medieval period, this study documents how acquired disfigurement is recorded across different geographical and chronological contexts in the period.
About the author: Patricia Skinner is Research Professor in Arts and Humanities at Swansea University, UK. She is the Director of the Effaced from History project, sponsored by the Wellcome Trust, and has previously published books on gender, medicine, and health, in addition to the social history of southern Italy.
Review (on the ditor website): “In this uncommonly refreshing contribution to the vibrant historical discourse on marginalisation, Skinner engages with current concerns beyond her chronological and thematic focus, while eschewing anachronism and reductionism. With ample evidence and spirited argument, she challenges widespread generalisations about past attitudes—and exposes persistent prejudices—towards the physically different.” (Luke Demaitre, Visiting Professor, Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities, University of Virginia, and author of “Leprosy in Premodern Medicine: A Malady of the Whole Body”)
Table of contents
Introduction: Writing and Reading About Medieval Disfigurement
The Face, Honor and “Face”
Disfigurement, Authority and the Law
Stigma and Disfigurement: Putting on a Brave Face?
Defacing Women: The Gendering of Disfigurement
More infos on the editor’s website