The special issue emerges from the interdisciplinary research project Disability before disability (Icel. Fötlun fyrir tíma fötlunar) situated at the Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Iceland, initiated in 2017, and supported by the Icelandic Research fund (Icel. Rannsóknasjóður) Grant of Excellence No 173655-05.
Recent years have seen growing interest in the exploration of disability in premodern societies and cultures. In line with the now commonly accepted (working) premise that disability is a multi-factorial phenomenon, scholars have come to realise that there can be no fixed, atemporal or acultural definition of disability. Thus, in order to consider whether and how premodern societies may have conceptualized disability, scholars must shed presentist preconceptions, cast a wide net, and be prepared to read between the lines. Equipped with an understanding of disability as a tool of sociocultural analysis, scholars today commonly make use of the concepts of ‘embodied difference’ and ‘marked or unusual bodies’ to yield more fruitful results as they do not imply pre-defined notions of disability. Although the body becomes a central platform on whose basis disability is negotiated, scholars are in no way limited to speaking only of the physicality of bodies. Rather the body is understood as a medium which materialises and translates physical, psychic, and intellectual differences in a way that societies can identify them as deviations from what is considered ‘normal’ in specific historical and socio-cultural contexts. Indeed, the phenomenon of disability cannot be studied without the contrast of what a culture or society conceptualizes as ‘ability’ and identifies as ‘normal’. The term ‘dis/ability’ can be used to express this inherent relationship and to remind us that it is not possible to understand one without recognizing the other.
Within this theoretical context, we invite proposals for essays (c. 7000 words) for a special issue of the journal Mirator that seeks to expand upon growing interest of dis/ability in the context of the medieval Nordic world. Contributors to the special issue will explore dis/ability within the context of different social arrangements and cultural conventions in the medieval Nordic world. We will especially welcome contributions that focus on close reading of specific texts (historical, legal, literary, etc.) as well as suggestions for broad, methodological approaches towards the study of dis/ability in the medieval Nordic world. Contributors will be encouraged, where possible, to expand the scope of their research to include related aspects from the fields of cultural studies, social theory, history, art, etc. In the context of the medieval Nordic world, possible topics include, but are not limited to:
- Approaches to the experience of dis/ability (i.e. sources, methodology)
- Dis/ability and society
- Religion and dis/ability
- Dis/ability and medical knowledge
- Intersections of dis/ability with age, gender, social status, etc.
- Dis/ability and the law
- Narrating experiences and perceptions of dis/ability
- Dis/ability, assistive technology, and care
- Terminology or language of dis/ability
Contributions dealing with geographic regions in the medieval Nordic world, including Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and/or Sweden, are welcome. We hope to represent all of these regions in the special issue and are particularly eager to field proposals dealing with Danish and Finnish material.
Please send one-page essay proposals accompanied by brief author bio (c. 100 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 1, 2019. In order to achieve an expeditious production timeline, essay drafts will be due in January 2020. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you might have in the meantime.
Call for Proposals for an Edited Volume:
More Fuss about the Body:
New Medievalists’ Perspectives
Editors: Leah Pope Parker and Stephanie Grace-Petinos
In her 1995 essay “Why All the Fuss about the Body?: A Medievalist’s Perspective,” Caroline Walker Bynum presented a nuanced picture of embodiment in the past in order “to suggest that we in the present would do well to focus on a wider range of topics in our study of body or bodies.”* The same year saw the release of Bynum’s magisterial exploration of the body, identity, and medieval Christian eschatology in The Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity, 200–1336. Almost 25 years later, Bynum’s call for diversity with respect to histories of the body still inspires increasingly nuanced approaches to medieval embodiment.
London, British Library, “Harley Psalter” Harley MS 603, fol. 6v
We invite proposals for short essays of approximately 5,000 words for a volume of original research that seeks to revisit, expand, and update the ideas presented in Bynum’s seminal essay, while using it as a springboard for future investigations concerning the body, both medieval and modern. We seek essays that deal with personhood, identity, and the material body, updating histories of the body through areas of study that have grown in popularity since the mid-1990s, including disability studies, trans studies, queer theory, postcolonial studies, posthumanism, ecocriticism, animal studies, and the global Middle Ages, along with new developments in feminist and critical race theory. Possible essay topics include, but are not limited to:
- Bodily integrity and the limits of the body, healing damage to the body, or bodies and borders (i.e. the treatment of bodies in immigration/incarceration);
- Theologies of death and resurrection and rituals of burial and remembrance;
- Bodies centered and marginalized—including discussion of recent movements such as #metoo and Black Lives Matter;
- Gender expression and/through the body;
- Normativity (cisheteronormativity, compulsory ablebodiedness, etc);
- Flora and fauna, cyborgs and prosthesis;
- Present-day concepts of embodiment and their medieval predecessors as presented in popular culture;
- Comparative and cross-cultural concepts of the body; and/or
- The body in queer/crip time.
The organizers of this panel are committed to including perspectives representative of the diversity of the field, and especially welcome proposals from “new” medievalists, that is in broad terms, those who have joined the field since 1995. In the spirit of Bynum’s invitation to consider “a wider range of topics in our study of body or bodies,” we welcome papers that offer critical reflections upon the field of medieval studies, and which represent diverse and innovative perspectives on medieval histories of the body and contemporary medievalisms.
Please send abstracts, accompanied by an author bio of no more than 200 words, to email@example.com by February 1, 2019.
NB: In order to achieve an accelerated production timeline, essay drafts will be due to the editors in fall 2019.
*Caroline Walker Bynum, “Why All the Fuss About the Body? A Medievalist’s Perspective,” Critical Inquiry 22 (1995): 1–33, p. 8.
More infos on the editor website
This edited volume aims to contribute to an emergent body of literature located at the intersection of critical animal studies and critical disability studies. This volume seeks to illuminate innovative ways to theorize and empirically examine the encounters between disabled/non-disabled human and disabled/non-disabled nonhuman animals, while providing a balanced portrait of the different experiences and perspectives of these social actors. This edited volume will be submitted for consideration as part of the Multispecies Encounters series published by Routledge.
The proposed volume will contain 10 to 12 chapters of approximately 20 pages each. Providing for an interdisciplinary view of current work at the intersections of critical animal and disability studies, we welcome submissions from a wide range of academic fields. At this stage, the editors invite book chapter abstracts (250 words maximum) submitted with a tentative title and brief author biography. Please send abstracts for review by December 15, 2018 in a Word format to: Alan Santinele Martino at firstname.lastname@example.org and Sarah May Lindsay at email@example.com. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. We expect to have the book proposal submitted to the publisher by January 31, 2019.
Dr. Samantha Hurn (University of Exeter)
Sarah May Lindsay (McMaster University)
Alan Santinele Martino (McMaster University)