CFP – The Medieval Brain Workshop, University of York, March 10th and 11th, 2017.

The Medieval Brain Workshop. University of York, 10th & 11th March 2017.

As we research aspects of the medieval brain, we encounter complications generated by medieval thought and twenty-first century medicine and neurology alike. Our understanding of modern-day neurology, psychiatry, disability studies, and psychology rests on shifting sands. Not only do we struggle with medieval terminology concerning the brain, but we have to connect it with a constantly-moving target of modern understanding. Though we strive to avoid interpreting the past using presentist terms, it is difficult – or impossible – to work independently of the framework of our own modern understanding. This makes research into the medieval brain and ways of thinking both challenging and exciting. As we strive to know more about specifically medieval experiences, while simultaneously widening our understanding of the brain today, we much negotiate a great deal of complexity.

In this two-day workshop, to be held at the University of York on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th March 2017 under the auspices of the Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders, we will explore the topic of ‘the medieval brain’ in the widest possible sense. The ultimate aim is to provide a forum for discussion, stimulating new collaborations from a multitude of voices on, and approaches to, the theme.

This call is for papers to comprise a series of themed sessions of papers and/or roundtables that approach the subject from a range of different, or an interweaving of, disciplines. Potential topics of discussion might include, but are not restricted to:

  • Mental health
  • Neurology
  • The history of emotions
  • Disability and impairment
  • Terminology and the brain
  • Ageing and thinking
  • Retrospective diagnosis and the Middle Ages
  • Interdisciplinary practice and the brain
  • The care of the sick
  • Herbals and medieval medical texts

Research that grapples with terminology, combines unconventional disciplinary approaches, and/or sparks debates around the themes is particularly welcome. We will be encouraging diversity, and welcome speakers from all backgrounds, including those from outside of traditional academia. All efforts will be made to ensure that the conference is made accessible to those who are not able to attend through live-tweeting and through this blog.

Please send abstracts of up to 250 words for independent papers, or expressiond of interest for roundtable topics/themed paper panels, by Friday 21st October, to Deborah Thorpe at:


Find the Call for paper on their blog for a two-day interdisciplinary workshop, supported by the Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders at the University of York.

CFP – ICMS Kalamazoo 2017: “Grey Matter: Brains, Diseases, and Disorders”

Call for papers: ICMS Kalamazoo 2017

“Grey Matter: Brains, Diseases, and Disorders”

Special session organised by Deborah Thorpe, Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders at the University of York, UK.


This session invites papers that examine any aspect of medieval cognition, neurology, and/or psychiatry through medieval source material. This topic can be approached through any one or combination of disciplines, and novel combinations of disciplines are encoraged. Especially welcome are papers that consider the relationships between modern medicine and medieval source material, such as the benefits and/or inherent problems of retrospective diagnosis and the value of the study of medieval history for our medical understanding today.

The session also encourages papers that explore terminology for diseases and disorders both modern and premodern, the diagnosis of conditions involving the brain, and the impact of neurological/psychiatric diseases and disorders on medieval lives.

Send abstracts of no more than 250 words, or any questions about this session, to


See the CFP on Deborah’s Thorpe blog « The scribe Unbound ».

CFP – The Digital Medieval Disability Glossary working group

Call for papers: 2016-2017

The Digital Medieval Disability Glossary working group invites graduate and undergraduate course projects exploring specific disability-related terms for potential inclusion in the glossary. Participants in courses on the history of the English language and in medieval languages and cultures are particularly encouraged to submit contributions to this collaborative project.

The glossary seeks to tell the story of medieval terms used for embodied difference, illness, and impairment. Building on existing resources such as the Dictionary of Old English, the Middle English Dictionary, and the Oxford English Dictionary, the Glossary will function as an open-access reference that demonstrates the complexity of medieval attitudes towards bodies, minds, and communities.

As indicated in this preliminary Wiki version, the Glossary contains entries developed by faculty and students at Southeastern University (guided by Dr. Cameron Hunt McNabb), Miami University at Hamilton (Dr. Tory. V. Pearman), and George Washington University (Dr. Jonathan Hsy). In each instance, entries provide straightforward definitions of the terms under consideration, broader insights into each word’s use and evolution, and a list of works cited and resources for future study. The working group is currently engaged in converting the Wiki into a full web resource.

The project, therefore, offers students and faculty the opportunity to participate in the creation of a vital new resource in the digital humanities. Entries should focus on how a particular term functions within a particular medieval context (ca. 700-1500 CE). Analysis of terms from a wide variety of medieval languages are welcome, but, at this point, we ask that the entries be written in English. Sample assignments that have been used to generate existing entries are available on request.

The Glossary working group will conduct open peer review of all entries, and all faculty and students will be credited by name and institution on the site. Proposed entries may be sent on a rolling basis. Ideally, though, material from Fall 2016 courses would be sent by 31 January 2017, and from Spring 2017 courses by 30 June 2017.

To learn more about this project or contribute an entry, please contact the current editor Karen Bruce Wallace at

Find the call for papers online here.

CFP – 10th Anniversary Annual Meeting – Disease, Disability & Medicine in Medieval Europe

Disease, Disability & Medicine in Medieval Europe
10th Anniversary Annual Meeting, Swansea University 2-4 December 2016 at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea

Disability and Religion

This three-day conference forms the tenth workshop in the D&D series and aims to explore the interactions between disability and medicine in the Middle Ages by bringing together established scholars and postgraduates, international discourses and theoretical approaches from across a wide range of the humanities and sciences.
Paper proposals are invited on, but certainly not limited to, the following topics:

• Medieval disability and the ‘religious model’ of disability
• Disability and charity
• Medieval theological concepts of disability
• Canon law and disability
• Interstices of law and medicine in the Middle Ages
• Religion versus science/medicine?
• Devotion, piety and religiosity and voluntary disability
• Disability as form of religious expression
• Corporality and disembodied disability
• Disability between confliciting notions of physical and spiritual health
• Disability and the afterlife

Please submit a 300 word abstract for a 20 to 30 minute paper, together with a brief biography, to by 1 October 2016. If you have any queries please contact Dr Irina Metzler at the same email address.
Attendance at the conference will be free to all participants but numbers are limited to 50 attendees.
Accessibility information: The conference will take place on the first floor of the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, which has wheelchair accessible lifts. The lecture theatres are wheelchair accessible and special dietary requirements can be catered for.

Download the CFP in .pdf

Histoire du handicap dans l’Europe médiévale

La thématique scientifique du carnet est l’histoire du handicap dans les sociétés pré-modernes. Depuis le développement des questions sociales qui aboutissent avec l’école des Annales, l’histoire s’est intéressée aux problématiques touchant les oubliés d’alors, dont font partie les pauvres mais aussi les infirmes qui sont alors historiquement traités identiquement. Avec la propagation de l’interdisciplinarité qui cause l’arrivée des Disabilty studies, les historiens font évoluer leurs réflexions. La sociologie notamment, par l’interactionnisme symbolique ou les concepts de déviance et d’exclusion qu’elle élabore, permet au handicap de devenir un objet d’étude constitué. La discipline historique s’intéresse alors à la marginalisation de ce groupe des pauvres en distinguant l’identité sociale virtuelle (stéréotype), de l’identité sociale réelle, notamment grâce à la notion de stigmates.
Cette historiographie a eu de grandes répercussions en France, alors que le monde anglophone est en pleine structuration du champ des Disability studies. La naissance de ces études entraîne un renouvellement des approches grâce à l’apparition du modèle social (qui distingue l’infirmité comme facteur biologique, du handicap comme création sociale) et du modèle culturel (qui suppose une construction culturelle de cette même création sociale du handicap). Dans les années quatre-vingt à deux mille, de nombreuses publications, principalement anglophones, tentent de traiter les sociétés historiques, modernes ou prémodernes, grâce à ce schéma d’analyse. Replaçant l’acteur au centre de la société et non plus comme un exclu, les publications utilisant le modèle d’analyse social foisonnent, tout comme celles plus attachées au modèle culturel qui, sous la forme de monographie, cherchent alors la place culturelle qu’occupe une catégorie de personne en situation de handicap.
Pourtant, les premières critiques abondent contre cette démarche qui impose, dans une certaine idée militante, une vision du monde adaptée aux sociétés capitalistes, mais non pertinente pour les sociétés du passé que les historiens étudient. L’utilisation des critical disability studies dès les années deux mille leur permet de sortir de l’opposition binaire que supposent les modèles social et culturel entre le handicap et l’infirmité, entraînant la naissance de la disability history comme champ constitué avec ses outils propres. Cependant, depuis ce moment, la disability history ne trouve pas sa place en France. Les questions qu’elle aborde et les concepts qu’elle mobilise, issus de l’interdisciplinarité anglo-saxonne (queer theory, southern theory, gender studies, colonial studies…) n’ont pas encore trouvé leur résonance. En effet, les problématiques qu’elle soulève sont à la croisé de plusieurs disciplines, qui, en France, sont clairement cloisonnées (sociologie, anthropologie, histoire…) et dont les frontières sont, pour l’instant encore, difficilement franchissables.
En espérant que ce carnet de recherche puisse faire le lien à la fois entre les disciplines, les thématiques et les périodes pré-modernes, je vous souhaite une bonne recherche.


Ce carnet de recherche « Histoire du handicap dans l’Europe médiévale » bénéficie d’un numéro ISSN (numéro international normalisé qui permet d’identifier les titres de publications en série (journaux, revues, bulletins, magazines, annuaires, rapports, classeurs à feuillets mobiles, collections éditoriales), quels qu’en soient le support (imprimé, en ligne, cédérom etc.) et la fréquence de parution.)


ISSN 2551-6191