New journal issue – Early Modern DisAbility History // DisAbility in der Frühen Neuzeit in the journal Frühen Neuzeit

Extract from the CFP

Imagine the following scenario (Goodey, 1): time travel is possible nowadays. A person labelled as disabled in today’s society has access to a time machine and travels some centuries back in time. Would this person be considered disabled in other times as well? Depending on the era and the culture this person would encounter, the answer might differ significantly. Hence, we start from the basic assumption that disability is subject to both cultural and historical change. It is therefore the result of constructions and attributions embedded in a specific historical period and culture.

In addition, being able or disabled always depends on other social categories and dynamics: Is the time traveller male or female, what is his/her social position and familial ties in the society he/she travels to, to which ethnic or religious community would the person belong, etc.? An axiom of DisAbility History stresses that “[l]ike gender, like race, disability must become a standard analytical tool in the historian’s tool chest” (Longmore/Umansky, 15). Methodologically, DisAbility History benefits from looking at intersections of analytical categories. This means that disability can only be understood in relation to ability. Therefore, it is also crucial to ask who is regarded to be able or unable to do something in certain contexts.

Continuities as well as ruptures shape our understanding of the early modern period. On the one hand, early modern times might retrospectively appear to be the incubation period of modernity (“Inkubationszeit der Moderne”, Paul Münch). In DisAbility History, we can assume that the emergence of the Cartesian mind-body dualism, of secularisation, medicalisation, or the long-standing scholarly trend to categorise phenomena, to name only a few examples, affected and changed the ways of understanding diseases and health until today. On the other hand, as researchers, we are constantly addressing early modern otherness in terminologies, experiences and conceptualisations of DisAbility. In addition, we notice some astonishingly persistent continuities from the medieval to early modern period when it comes to treating illness and disease.

Table of Contents

  • Julia Gebke and Julia Heinemann
    Dealing with Definitional Voids. DisAbility in Early Modern Europe
  • Patrick Schmidt
    Writing a Discourse History of Multiple Discourses. An Approach to Perceptions and Constructions of Dis/ability in Seventeenth- and Eigteenth-Century European Societies
  • Philine Helas
    Krank, alt, blind. Zur Darstellung des Bettlers in der italienischen Malerei zwischen dem 14. und 18. Jahrhundert
  • Riikka Miettinen
    ‘Disabled’ Minds. Mental Impairments and Dis/ability in Early Modern Sweden
  • Carlos Watzka
    Prävention und Rehabilitation von Behinderungen der Erwerbsfähigkeit als Bestandteile der Gesundheitsversorgung im konfessionellen Staat der Frühen Neuzeit. Das Beispiel der Barmherzigen Brüder in Österreich und ihrer Förderung durch die Habsburger
  • Simon Jarrett
    Myths of Marginality. Idiocy in Britain in the Long Eighteenth Century
  • Bianca Frohne
    Living with Pain. Exploring Strange Temporalities in Premodern Disability History

Abstracts here !

More information here !

New article – « The Female Condition: Gender and Deformity in High-Medieval Miracle Narratives » by Anne E Bailey, in Gender & History

Abstract

This article explores the intersection of medicine, religion and gender within the context of miracle narratives compiled in England and France in the High Middle Ages. Women in miracle accounts have much to tell us about medieval ideas of gendered sickness and health, yet this is an area which has received little scholarly attention. Focusing on stories of female deformity and disfigurement, it is argued that sickness has a feminising effect on women’s bodies in these sources, but proposed that symptoms of excess femininity were not always seen as the spiritual hindrance that might be expected.

Get access to the publication

First published: 19 February 2021 https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0424.12519

[Correction added on 20th April 2021, after first online publication: Amendments have been made throughout the text for clarity.]

New book (Open Access!) – Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World – edited by Monica H. Green

Description

This ground-breaking book brings together scholars from the humanities and social and physical sciences to address the question of how recent work in the genetics, zoology, and epidemiology of plague’s causative organism (Yersinia pestis) can allow a rethinking of the Black Death pandemic and its larger historical significance.

Contents

  1. Introducing The Medieval Globe, by Carol Symes
  2. Editor’s Introduction to Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World, by Monica H. Green
  3. Taking “Pandemic” Seriously: Making the Black Death Global, by Monica H. Green
  4. The Black Death and Its Consequences for the Jewish Community in Tàrrega: Lessons from History and Archeology, by Anna Colet, Josep Xavier Muntané i Santiveri, Jordi Ruíz Ventura, Oriol Saula, M. Eulàlia Subirà de Galdàcano, and Clara Jauregui
  5. The Anthropology of Plague: Insights from Bioarcheological Analyses of Epidemic Cemeteries, by Sharon N. DeWitte
  6. Plague Depopulation and Irrigation Decay in Medieval Egypt, by Stuart Borsch
  7. Plague Persistence in Western Europe: A Hypothesis, by Ann G. Carmichael
  8. New Science and Old Sources: Why the Ottoman Experience of Plague Matters, by Nükhet Varlik
  9. Heterogeneous Immunological Landscapes and Medieval Plague: An Invitation to a New Dialogue between Historians and Immunologists, by Fabian Crespo and Matthew B. Lawrenz
  10. The Black Death and the Future of the Plague, by Michelle Ziegler
  11. Epilogue: A Hypothesis on the East Asian Beginnings of the Yersinia pestis Polytomy, by Robert Hymes
  12. Featured Source
  13. Diagnosis of a “Plague” Image: A Digital Cautionary Tale, by Monica H. Green, Kathleen Walker-Meikle, and Wolfgang P. Müller

More infos and FREE open access on the editor website

New book – Literature and Intellectual Disability in Early Modern England: Folly, Law and Medicine, 1500-1640 by Alice Equestri, published by Routledge

Fools and clowns were widely popular characters employed in early modern drama, prose texts and poems mainly as laughter makers, or also as ludicrous metaphorical embodiments of human failures. Literature and Intellectual Disability in Early Modern England: Folly, Law and Medicine, 1500-1640 pays full attention to the intellectual difference of fools, rather than just their performativity: what does their total, partial, or even pretended ‘irrationality’ entail in terms of non-standard psychology or behaviour, and others’ perception of them? Is it possible to offer a close contextualised examination of the meaning of folly in literature as a disability? And how did real people having intellectual disabilities in the Renaissance period influence the representation and subjectivity of literary fools?

Alice Equestri answers these and other questions by investigating the wide range of significant connections between the characters and Renaissance legal and medical knowledge as presented in legal records, dictionaries, handbooks, and texts of medicine, natural philosophy, and physiognomy. Furthermore, by bringing early modern folly in closer dialogue with the burgeoning fields of disability studies and disability theory, this study considers multiple sides of the argument in the historical disability experience: intellectual disability as a variation in the person and as a difference which both society and the individual construct or respond to. Early modern literary fools’ characterisation then emerges as stemming from either a realistic or also from a symbolical or rhetorical representation of intellectual disability.

Introduction: Fools, from Popular Culture to Disability Studies

Section 1: Law

2. The Legal Discourse of ‘Idiocy’ on the Stage and Page

3. ‘A fool and his money are soon parted’: the Fool and Property

4. ‘An you knew my properties somebody would ha’ me’: the Fool as a Ward

Section 2: Medicine and Physiognomy

5. Nature, Wits and Skulls: the Fool’s Head

6. Intellectual, Sensory and Physical Disability: the Fool’s Body and Face

7. Rationalising Fools’ Disability: Causes and Risk Factors

8. Epilogue: Intellectual Disability, Embodiment and Humour in Early Modern Literature

Alice Equestri is a researcher and lecturer in early modern English literature at the University of Padua. Between 2017 and 2019, she was a Marie Sklodowska-Curie researcher at the University of Sussex. She is the author of ‘Armine… Thou Art a Foole and Knave’: The Fools of Shakespeare’s Romances (2016) and has published on folly in early modern culture, on Shakespeare’s last plays, and on Renaissance translation.

New book – Beholding Disability in Renaissance England, by Allison P. Hobgood – University of Michigan Press

Beholding Disability in Renaissance England

 
Allison P. Hobgood
 
How disability and ableism took shape in Renaissance England
 

Description

Human variation has always existed, though it has been conceived of and responded to variably. Beholding Disability in Renaissance England interprets sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature to explore the fraught distinctiveness of human bodyminds and the deliberate ways they were constructed in early modernity as able, and not. Hobgood examines early modern disability, ableism, and disability gain, purposefully employing these contemporary concepts to make clear how disability has historically been disavowed—and avowed too. Thus, this book models how modern ideas and terms make the weight of the past more visible as it marks the present, and cultivates dialogue in which early modern and contemporary theoretical models are mutually informative.

Beholding Disability also uncovers crucial counterdiscourses circulating in the English Renaissance that opposed cultural fantasies of ability and had a keen sensibility toward non-normative embodiments. Hobgood reads impairments as varied as epilepsy, stuttering, disfigurement, deafness, chronic pain, blindness, and castration in order to understand not just powerful fictions of ability present during the Renaissance but also the somewhat paradoxical, surprising ways these ableist ideals provided creative fodder for many Renaissance writers and thinkers. Ultimately, Beholding Disability asks us to reconsider what we think we know about being human both in early modernity, and today.
 

Allison P. Hobgood is an Affiliated Scholar at Willamette University.

More information on the editor website.