CFP – Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Healing Charms and Medicine Harvard University, April 6-8, 2018

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@fas.harvard.edu. 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.


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