New article – Speaking in Hands: Early Modern Preaching and Signed Languages for the Deaf, by Rosamund Oates, pub. in Past & Present, 2021

 
 
Published: 30 October 2021
 

Abstract

This article demonstrates that deaf men and women were integrated into early modern communities through use of sign language, and that Protestant concerns about preaching and hearing promoted sign language as a legitimate form of communication. Historians have believed that the Protestant emphasis on preaching excluded deaf people from heaven. However, not only did contemporaries believe that deaf people could be saved, but debates on this topic prompted a wider assessment of the nature of hearing loss and sensory knowledge. Discussions about deafness therefore had implications for all congregations, as English preachers used well-known manual gestures from rhetorical texts to make their sermons accessible for both the ‘spiritually’ and the ‘physically’ deaf. The experiences of deaf people in early modern England demonstrate the importance of religious practices in shaping perceptions of disability and impairment. By focusing on deaf parishioners, it is possible to explore some of the impacts of the Reformation on ideas of embodiment while modifying literary accounts of the representation of disability in the period. A little-known part of early modern history, the role of preachers in the evolution of signed languages for the deaf offers new perspectives on Reformation history and the growing field of disability history.

Article Contents

 

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New Book – Saints, Cure-Seekers and Miraculous Healing in Twelfth-Century England by Ruth J. Salter

DESCRIPTION

Traces the journey from ill health to miraculous cure through the lens of hagiographical texts from twelfth-century England.
 
The cults of the saints were central to the medieval Church. These holy men and women acted as patrons and protectors to the religious communities who housed their relics and to the devotees who requested their assistance in petitioning God for a miracle. Among the collections of posthumous miracle stories, miracula, accounts of holy healing feature prominently and depict cure-seekers successfully securing their desired remedy for a range of ailments and afflictions. What can these miracle accounts tell us of the cure-seekers’ experiences of their journey from ill health to recovery, and how was healthcare presented in these sources?

This book aims to answer these questions via an in-depth study of the miraculous cure-seeking process, considering Latin miracle accounts produced in twelfth-century England, a time both when saints’ cults flourished and there was an increasing transmission and dissemination of classical and Arabic medical works. Focused on seven shorter miracula (including Eadmer of Canterbury’s Miracula S. Dunstani and Thomas of Monmouth’s Vita et Passione S. Wilelmi Martyris Norwicensis) with a predominantly localised appeal, and thus on a select group of cure-seekers – including Abbot Osbert of Notley who suffered from an eye complaint, Leofmær the bedridden knight, and Gaufrid who experienced a bad tooth extraction – the volume brings together studies of healthcare and pilgrimage, looking at the alternative to secular medical intervention and the practicalities and processes of securing saintly assistance.
 

CONTENTS

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgements
List of Abbreviations
Introduction
1 Miraculous Cures in Context: Twelfth-Century Medicine and the Saints
2 Holy Healing: An Analysis of the Ailments
3 The Great and the Good: Identifying the Cure-Seekers within the Miracles
4 From Near and Far: The Geography of the Cults and the Distance Travelled
5 The Road to Recovery: The Experience of Seeking Cure
6 Upon Arrival at the Shrine: Cure-Seekers and the Place of their Cure
Conclusion


Appendix 1: A List of the Named Cure-Seekers Within the Seven Miracula
Appendix 2: A List of the Occupations Recorded for Laypersons Within the Seven Miracula
Appendix 3: A List of the Place Names Recorded for Within Thomas of Monmouth’s M. Willelmi
Bibliography
Index

AUTHOR

RUTH J. SALTER is a Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Reading.

 

More information on the editor website

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.

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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

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