New book – Old Age in Early Medieval England A Cultural History by Thijs Porck ed. by Boydell and Brewer

First full-length study of the notion and concept of old age in early medieval England.

How did Anglo-Saxons reflect on the experience of growing old? Was it really a golden age for the elderly, as has been suggested? This first full survey of the Anglo-Saxon cultural conceptualisation of old age, as manifested and reflected in the texts and artwork of the inhabitants of early medieval England, presents a more nuanced and complicated picture. The author argues that although senescence was associated with the potential for wisdom and pious living, the Anglo-Saxons also anticipated various social, psychological and physical repercussions of growing old. Their attitude towards elderly men and women – whether they were saints, warriors or kings – was equally ambivalent.
Multidisciplinary in approach, this book makes use of a wide variety of sources, ranging from the visual arts to hagiography, homiletic literature and heroic poetry. Individual chapters deal with early medieval definitions of the life cycle; the merits and drawbacks of old age as represented in Anglo-Saxon homilies and wisdom poetry; the hagiographic topos of elderly saints; the portrayal of grey-haired warriors in heroic literature; Beowulf as a mirror for elderly kings; and the cultural roles attributed to old women.

Table of contents:

Introduction
Definitions of old age
Merits of old age
Drawbacks of old age
frode fyrnwitan: Old saints in Anglo-Saxon hagiography
hare hilderincas: Old warriors in Anglo-Saxon England
ealde eðelweardas: Beowulf as a mirror of elderly kings
gamole geomeowlan: Old women in Anglo-Saxon England
Conclusion
Bibliography

THIJS PORCK is Assistant Professor of Medieval English, Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society, Leiden University. 

An e-book version of this title is available (9781787444690), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.

Keywords: Anglo-Saxon StudiesMedieval HistoryMedieval Literature

More info on the editor’s website

CFP – « Mental Health in the Medieval and Early Modern World » – The Annual Conference of the Perth Medieval and Renaissance Group and the UWA Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies

SATURDAY 19 OCTOBER 2019 – The University of Western Australia

Keynote: Yasmin Haskell (UWA)

Modern stereotypes abound regarding how mental health was perceived during the medieval and early modern period ranging from mental illness being caused by sin to the idea that the attainment of mental wellbeing could only be achieved through the balancing of the bodily humours. But mental health was a more complex and expansive subject of discourse throughout the period that was widely explored in medical treatises, religious tracts and sermons, and prominent in art and literature, which speaks to a more subtle understanding of the human mental state.

This conference aims to look at both the changing and continuing perceptions of mental health throughout the medieval and early modern period.

We welcome papers from the fields of book culture and manuscript studies, history, material culture, medicine, art, and literature, but not limited to, the following broad headings:

  • Suicide Marginal lives Melancholy
  • Depression Insanity
  • Mental disorder Rapture
  • Ecstasy Bodily humours Addiction Anguish Therapies Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Well-being Imagination Dreams
  • Visions
  • Memory Criminality Self-harm Solitude Natural
  • Kind
  • Unnatural

The conference organisers invite proposals for 20-minute papers. Please send a paper title, 250-word abstract, and a short (no more than 100-word) biography to: pmrg.cmems.conference@gmail.com by 31 May 2019.

CFP – Pilgrimage and the Senses – University of Oxford, 7 June 2019

Deadline for submissions: 20 January 2019
Keynote Speaker: Professor Kathryn Rudy (University of St. Andrews)

With the release of its inaugural issue in 2006, The Senses and Society journal proclaimed a « sensual revolution » in the humanities and social sciences. The ensuing decade has seen a boom in sensory studies, resulting in research networks, museum exhibitions, and a wealth of publications. This interdisciplinary conference hosted at the University of Oxford aims to shed light on how sensory perception shapes and is shaped by the experience of pilgrimage across cultures, faith traditions, and throughout history.

Pilgrimages present an intriguing paradox. Grounded in physical experiences—a journey (real or imagined), encounters with sites and/or relics, and commemorative tokens—they also simultaneously demand a devotional focus on the metaphysical. A ubiquitous and long-lasting devotional practice, pilgrimage is a useful lens through which to examine how humans encounter the sacred through the tools of perception available to us. Focusing on the ways in which pilgrimage engages the senses will contribute to our knowledge of how people have historically understood both religious experience and their bodies as vehicles of devotional participation. We call on speakers to grapple with the challenges of understanding the sensory experience of spiritual phenomena, while bearing in mind that understandings of the senses can vary according to specific cultural contexts. While the five senses are a natural starting point, we are open to including papers that deal with « sense » in a more general way, such as senses of time and place.

Sample topics may include (but are not limited to):

  • the role of beholding (places, relics, miracles, mementos) in the pilgrimage experience
  • haptic encounters with relics
  • ways in which pilgrims are seen: wearing specific clothing and/or badges, public acts (or affects) of devotion, how pilgrims are depicted or described
  • pilgrims’ auditory expressions: wailing/crying, chanting, singing, reciting prayers
  • bathing and purification in preparation for devotions
  • food as a ritual element or means of experiencing cultures along a pilgrimage route
  • the place of music on the pilgrimage route and/or at pilgrimage destinations
  • pain as a facet of the pilgrimage journey
  • the sensory spectacle—visual, auditory, olfactory—of pilgrimage processions
  • devotional objects that require handling, such as prayer beads and prayer wheels
  • psychosomatic sensory experiences as a means of engaging with the divine
  • the evocation of sensory participation through works of art and/or written accounts

We invite 20-minute papers from any discipline on topics related to the themes outlined above, especially in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, art history, history, literature, musicology, religious studies, sociology, and theology. We welcome submissions relating to aspects of pilgrimage of any faith or historical period. Doctoral students and early career researchers are particularly encouraged to apply.

Please submit a title, abstract (max. 250 words), and brief bio to pilgrimagesenses2019@gmail.com by January 20th. Successful applicants will be notified by February 5th. All submissions and papers must be in English.

More infos on the Pilgrimage 2019 website

CFP – SSHM Postgrad conference in University of Bristol: ‘Bodies and Minds, Sickness and Soundness’ – June 13-14 2019

The 2019 SSHM PG conference committee welcomes papers on any topic within the discipline of the social history of medicine and particularly encourage proposals for papers and panels that critically examine or challenge some aspect of the history of medicine and health. We welcome a range of methodological approaches, geographical regions, and time periods.

Proposals should be based on new research from postgraduate students currently registered in a University programme. Paper submissions should include a 250-word abstract, including five key words and a short bio. Panel submissions should feature three papers, a chair, and a 100-word panel abstract.

For postgraduate students not currently funded through an existing fellowship or grant, funding is available through the SSHM to help offset the costs associated with travel and accommodation. Upon acceptance of a paper, requests for bursaries should be submitted to the Executive Secretariat prior to the conference. More information can be found on our website.

All postgraduate delegates must register (or already be registered) as members of the Society for the Social History of Medicine. For more information about SSHM student membership, please see the journal subscription site.

In addition to showcasing the latest postgraduate research, the conference will feature training workshops led by members of the SSHM Executive Committee.

Call for papers closes on 31 January 2019.

Please direct queries about this event to the SSHM PG Conference admin team at:
sshm-pg-conference2019@bristol.ac.uk

More infos on the SSHM website

New book – Monstrous Kinds – Body, Space, and Narrative in Renaissance Representations of Disability, by Elizabeth B. Bearden – publish by University of Michigan Press

This book elucidates how Renaissance writers used monstrosity to imagine what we now call disability

Monstrous Kinds is the first book to explore textual representations of disability in the global Renaissance. Elizabeth B. Bearden contends that monstrosity, as a precursor to modern concepts of disability, has much to teach about our tendency to inscribe disability with meaning. Understanding how early modern writers approached disability not only provides more accurate genealogies of disability, but also helps nuance current aesthetic and theoretical disability formulations.

The book analyzes the cultural valences of early modern disability across a broad national and chronological span, attending to the specific bodily, spatial, and aesthetic systems that contributed to early modern literary representations of disability. The cross section of texts (including conduct books and treatises, travel writing and wonder books) is comparative, putting canonical European authors such as Castiglione into dialogue with transatlantic and Anglo-Ottoman literary exchange.  Bearden questions grand narratives that convey a progression of disability from supernatural marvel to medical specimen, suggesting that, instead, these categories coexist and intersect.

 “An excellent, timely, and necessary book that upends the problematic assumption in contemporary disability studies that norming influences didn’t exist in premodern societies. Highly interdisciplinary, Monstrous Kinds is an important contribution to both premodern and contemporary disability studies.”

—Allison P. Hobgood, Willamette University

An innovative book that will significantly contribute to the growing body of knowledge of Renaissance disability. The variety of texts examined from different geographical areas and languages, and the in-depth analysis of the works and images, are outstanding.”

—Encarnación Juárez-Almendros, University of Notre Dame

Winner of the Tobin Siebers Prize for Disability Studies in the Humanities

Illustration courtesy Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.

Cover description: The cover is a vibrant shade of red with contrasting white and yellow type. Set against this background and to the left is an image of conjoined adult female twins, joined from the chest down. Their torso and breasts are bare and they are draped below the waist.  

Elizabeth B. Bearden is Professor of English, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

More infos on the editor website