New CFP – SenSArt second international conference of the series ‘Experiencing the Sacred’, entitled ‘The Senses, Cognition, and the Body in Medieval Devotional Practices’

The Senses, Cognition, and the Body in Medieval Devotional Practices

2nd International Multidisciplinary Conference of the Series ‘Experiencing the Sacred’

Starting with the 12th century, the upsurge of interest in Christ’s humanity and the more intense focus on his corporeal nature fostered more individualized and embodied approaches to spirituality, as emphasized by Caroline Walker Bynum. The human body of the believers themselves became a focal point, as a tool through which individuals could aspire to connect with the divine. Mary Carruthers and Michelle Karnes have illustrated that the incorporation of Aristotelian theories into Christian thought by theologians such as Thomas Aquinas played a crucial role in shaping these changing paradigms. They provided a new framework for understanding the moral and spiritual interpretations of the senses, the body and cognitive processes. This intellectual shift created innovative avenues for communicating complex spiritual concepts through somatic experiences, making the divine more accessible and even tangible. Over the centuries, the dissemination of these ideas among the laity through sermons, as noted by Giuseppe Ledda, and devotional literature such as the Meditationes Vitae Christi, led to the creation of a widespread culture of sensation. As a result, the integration of sensory and bodily experiences into religious practices became a shared cultural phenomenon, shaping the way people perceived and interacted with their faith. 

To better grasp the relations between the senses, the body and the mind we propose to incorporate recent developments in the field of cognitive sciences. The intersection between cognitive sciences and medieval studies is a very recent and still rare occurrence (Blud & Dresvina, 2010), yet it holds promise. For the purpose of the present conference, we are interested in the fact that in cognitive sciences, the dynamics of interaction among mind, body, and material world are now deemed crucial to understand mental states and processes. Cognition is indeed understood to be embodied (it does not depend solely on the brain but is also influenced by the body) and embedded, meaning it is inextricably linked to its social and material environment. This interpretative framework proves particularly useful in analyzing medieval religious practices, where material items, environments, and individual experiences were inextricably connected. 

The interdisciplinary focus of this conference, integrating sensory studies, material culture studies, cognitive studies, and historical research, provides a rich platform for understanding the profound changes in religion during the medieval period. By exploring somatised spiritual experiences, the conference aims to shed new light on the intricate ways in which the senses, cognition, and the body were engaged in devotional practices, emphasizing the multisensory nature of medieval spirituality. 

We welcome abstracts for 25-minute papers, in English or Italian.

Desirable themes include (but are not limited to): 

  • The intersection of material objects, the body, and immaterial practices in devotional contexts; 
  • The role of the body, emotions and cognition in the sacred spaces and its perceptions;
  • Living and dead bodies in religious spaces and practices;
  • Touching and dressing bodies in sacred spaces;
  • The role played by the senses in cognitive processes, for example the use of the body and the senses as metaphors to facilitate the understanding of religious concepts;
  • Individual, collective, and gendered forms of embodied and embedded devotion; 
  • The agency of objects in extended forms of cognition in religious contexts;
  • Theories (medical, physiological, theological, etc.) on the body and mind in medieval culture.

By November 30th please submit to the conference organizers Zuleika Murat (, Pieter Boonstra (, Micol Long ( and Davide Tramarin (  

  • full name, current affiliation (if applicable), and email address;
  • paper title of maximum 15 words;
  • abstracts of maximum 300 words; 
  • a biography of maximum 500 words;
  • three to five key-words.

Notifications of acceptance will be given by December 18th.

Selected papers will be invited for publication in a collective volume in the Brepols series “The Senses and Material Culture in a Global Perspective’’.

This conference is organised by the ERC research project SenSArt – The Sensous Appeal of the Holy. Sensory Agency of Sacred Art and Somatised Spiritual Experiences in Medieval Europe (12th-15th century), Grant Agreement nr. 950248, PI Zuleika Murat, Università degli Studi di Padova (

Organising Committee

Zuleika Murat (Associate Professor, Università degli Studi di Padova)

Pieter Boonstra (Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Università degli Studi di Padova)

Micol Long (Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Università degli Studi di Padova) 

Davide Tramarin (Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Università degli Studi di Padova)

More information on the ERC website

Medievalists with Disabilities Roundtable IMC 2024 

Call for abstracts

After five successful roundtables bringing up issues around disability in Higher Education, we propose another roundtable for IMC 2024.

We invite abstracts for 5 minute talks for the roundtable. We understand disability in the broadest sense, incorporating visible and invisible impairments, chronic illness and mental health, to name but a few.

Topics might include:

· Your own circumstances in a HE institution

· Pinpointing a particular issue that needs addressing

· Highlighting an example of good practice in your own institution

· Issues of intersectionality: how disability might interact with other factors that have an impact on marginalized people e.g. gender, class, sexuality, and/or race

You can participate in a roundtable as well as presenting a paper, so please do consider submitting an abstract for this roundtable if you’re already planning to present. You don’t have to identify as disabled to participate, for example if you’d like to share an example of good practice, but priority will be given to disabled scholars.

Please submit a title for your talk as well as a brief summary (no more than 150 words) to Alex Lee (al6598@nyu.eduby 3 September 2023.

We are also seeking a chair for the session, so please let me know if you’d like that role.

You can watch last year’s video here:

Call for Papers Leeds IMC 2024: Understanding Miracles: Crisis Resolution and Community Impact

Miracles occurred in a variety of environments and for numerous reasons in the Middle Ages. This panel will seek to understand the impact of these miracles on individuals and their communities, whether that be personal healing, contributing to the power of a shrine, or helping to ratify a holy object. Miracles could also be used to resolve a crisis, whether of personal health, related to the natural world, or even in a more abstract sense relating to politics or conflict. 

Often defying neat categorisation, events designated as miraculous in the medieval source materials may be read through a variety of different lenses, including disability studies, history of medicine, political thought and environmental studies. This panel seeks to present papers from numerous perspectives to consider the different roles that miracles could play throughout the medieval world. 

Papers might address (but are not limited to):

-the role of disability and miracles

-miracles involving natural phenomena

-the resolution of crises through miracles

-miracles in relation to natural disasters and/or epidemic disease  

Please submit an abstract of c.300 words, a 100 word biographical statement and whether you would intend to present virtually or in person. Please email this to Alex Lee at and Sunny Harrison by 11 September.


Link to the google doc

CFP – Histories of Disability and Emotions – An International Online Conference Hosted by KU Leuven and the University of Liège, Belgium, 13-15 June 2023

Histories of Disability and Emotions

An International Online Conference Hosted by KU Leuven and the University of Liège, Belgium, 13-15 June 2023


The history of disability and the history of emotions are now well-established fields of research. They have experienced relatively similar debates and methodological developments, and they have strong, if complicated, ties to the history of medicine. But despite their similarities, these two fields have only recently started to intersect. In his 2016 article “Disability History and the History of Emotions: Reflections on Eighteenth-Century Britain”, David M. Turner explored “ways in which history’s ‘emotional turn’ can shed light on disability in the past,” and suggested that we steer away from focusing on “sympathy” and “pity.” Yet, to date there is still relatively little historical research on the connections between disability and emotions.

We welcome proposals for 20-minutes presentations that analyze the emotions experienced by disabled people and/or communal emotions evoked by disabilities in different societies and cultures worldwide throughout history. We expect that the concepts of “disability” and “emotions” themselves may have different meanings than today. Proposals may address, but need not be limited to, the following broad topics: 1) Emotional lives of disabled people, including expressions of joy, pride, satisfaction, pain, shame, fear, sadness, etc.; the interaction of disability with emotional norms; the use of empathy as a social weapon; 2) Emotional reactions to disability by others (love, trust, compassion, fear, disgust, derision, etc.); 3) Analyses of the educational trajectories (formal as well as informal) leading to the constitution of particular emotions/emotional subjectivities; 4) disability and emotions in art history.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted to the conference organizers, Ninon Dubourg (, Sara Scalenghe (, and Pieter Verstraete ( by February 1, 2023. Accepted contributors will be notified by February 15. Drafts of papers will be due on May 15. The conference will take place entirely online. After the conference, contributors will be invited to apply to participate in a smaller hybrid workshop in Leuven and Liège in the fall of 2023 that will result in a peer-reviewed edited volume and/or special journal issue.


CFP – In Sickness and in Health: Medieval Healing and the Community. Tenth Annual Medieval Studies Colloquium, 21 April 2023, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Deadline: 10 January 2023

The Medieval Studies Colloquium is an annual event which takes place on UW–Madison’s campus each spring. The Colloquium offers an opportunity for graduate students in multiple disciplines to present their research in the various fields of medieval studies, share and receive feedback, and participate in discussion on topics of interest with peers from a wider, interdisciplinary community of Medieval Studies scholars, without the restrictions of membership or registration fees.

Please join the Graduate Association of Medieval Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison for the Tenth Annual Medieval Studies Colloquium: “In Sickness and in Health: Medieval Healing and the Community.”

The colloquium will take place Friday, April 21st, 2023, in-person at the University of Wisconsin–Madison with a keynote address by Dr. Erin Sweany (English, Western Michigan University).

The Tenth Annual GAMS Colloquium is sponsored by the Program in Medieval Studies, Department of Art History, Department of History, Department of English, Department of French & Italian, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic +. For accessibility accommodations, please contact:

The Graduate Association of Medieval Studies at UW–Madison invites abstracts from graduate and undergraduate students on topics relating to sickness, health, and community (broadly defined). Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words to by January 10th, 2023.

For further information visit the conference website.

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