CFC – Dis/ability in the medieval Nordic world – A special issue of Mirator Editors: Anna Katharina Heiniger and Christopher Crocker

The special issue emerges from the interdisciplinary research project Disability before disability (Icel. Fötlun fyrir tíma fötlunar) situated at the Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Iceland, initiated in 2017, and supported by the Icelandic Research fund (Icel. Rannsóknasjóður) Grant of Excellence No 173655-05.

Recent years have seen growing interest in the exploration of disability in premodern societies and cultures. In line with the now commonly accepted (working) premise that disability is a multi-factorial phenomenon, scholars have come to realise that there can be no fixed, atemporal or acultural definition of disability. Thus, in order to consider whether and how premodern societies may have conceptualized disability, scholars must shed presentist preconceptions, cast a wide net, and be prepared to read between the lines. Equipped with an understanding of disability as a tool of sociocultural analysis, scholars today commonly make use of the concepts of ‘embodied difference’ and ‘marked or unusual bodies’ to yield more fruitful results as they do not imply pre-defined notions of disability. Although the body becomes a central platform on whose basis disability is negotiated, scholars are in no way limited to speaking only of the physicality of bodies. Rather the body is understood as a medium which materialises and translates physical, psychic, and intellectual differences in a way that societies can identify them as deviations from what is considered ‘normal’ in specific historical and socio-cultural contexts. Indeed, the phenomenon of disability cannot be studied without the contrast of what a culture or society conceptualizes as ‘ability’ and identifies as ‘normal’. The term ‘dis/ability’ can be used to express this inherent relationship and to remind us that it is not possible to understand one without recognizing the other.

Within this theoretical context, we invite proposals for essays (c. 7000 words) for a special issue of the journal Mirator that seeks to expand upon growing interest of dis/ability in the context of the medieval Nordic world. Contributors to the special issue will explore dis/ability within the context of different social arrangements and cultural conventions in the medieval Nordic world. We will especially welcome contributions that focus on close reading of specific texts (historical, legal, literary, etc.) as well as suggestions for broad, methodological approaches towards the study of dis/ability in the medieval Nordic world. Contributors will be encouraged, where possible, to expand the scope of their research to include related aspects from the fields of cultural studies, social theory, history, art, etc. In the context of the medieval Nordic world, possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Approaches to the experience of dis/ability (i.e. sources, methodology)
  • Dis/ability and society
  • Religion and dis/ability
  • Dis/ability and medical knowledge
  • Intersections of dis/ability with age, gender, social status, etc.
  • Dis/ability and the law
  • Narrating experiences and perceptions of dis/ability
  • Dis/ability, assistive technology, and care
  • Terminology or language of dis/ability

Contributions dealing with geographic regions in the medieval Nordic world, including Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and/or Sweden, are welcome. We hope to represent all of these regions in the special issue and are particularly eager to field proposals dealing with Danish and Finnish material.

Please send one-page essay proposals accompanied by brief author bio (c. 100 words) to annakh@hi.is by June 1, 2019. In order to achieve an expeditious production timeline, essay drafts will be due in January 2020. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you might have in the meantime.

New Book – Poison, Medicine, and Disease in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, by Frederick W Gibbs

Poison, Medicine, and Disease in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe

Frederick W Gibbs

 

Features (from the editor website)

Challenges the standard histories of toxicology

Multi-faceted and innovative approach

Brings new perspectives to the study of the history of medicine

Summary (from the editor website)

This book presents a uniquely broad and pioneering history of premodern toxicology by exploring how late medieval and early modern (c. 1200–1600) physicians discussed the relationship between poison, medicine, and disease. Drawing from a wide range of medical and natural philosophical texts—with an emphasis on treatises that focused on poison, pharmacotherapeutics, plague, and the nature of disease—this study brings to light premodern physicians’ debates about the potential existence, nature, and properties of a category of substance theoretically harmful to the human body in even the smallest amount. Focusing on the category of poison (venenum) rather than on specific drugs reframes and remixes the standard histories of toxicology, pharmacology, and etiology, as well as shows how these aspects of medicine (although not yet formalized as independent disciplines) interacted with and shaped one another. Physicians argued, for instance, about what properties might distinguish poison from other substances, how poison injured the human body, the nature of poisonous bodies, and the role of poison in spreading, and to some extent defining, disease. The way physicians debated these questions shows that poison was far from an obvious and uncontested category of substance, and their effort to understand it sheds new light on the relationship between natural philosophy and medicine in the late medieval and early modern periods.

CFP – Giving and Receiving Care in Times of War – IMC Leeds 2018

Giving and Receiving Care in Times of War

International Medieval Congress – Leeds
July 2018

During conflicts, bodies and minds are subjected to injury. Although a truism, this aspect of the experience of medieval warfare is somewhat underexplored. Recent studies of wounds and wounding and the incidence and experience of sickness during military campaigns have begun to focus attention on how medieval combatants and non-combatants suffered bodily and mental damage in times of war. At the same time, new work has put this experience in a medical context, examining contemporary sources to see how the experience of infirmity in times of war was recorded and interpreted by observers in the medieval medical framework of humoralism. However, there is scope for further investigation across the whole medieval period, and in particular on the experience of the incapacitated as recipients of bodily, psychological, medical and spiritual care.

 

The experience of the injured, sick, and incapacitated is one half of any medical history; the identity and practice of those who offer care to them is the other half. The role of carer is a complex one. Carers might have significant knowledge of nursing or medicine, or be thrust into the role of carer by circumstance. They may experience physical and emotional labour in offering care to the incapacitated, and need care themselves. Recent work on the history of medical practitioners shows us that we should look beyond those identified as ‘medics’ in contemporary to fully understand the landscape of medical care in the Middle Ages, but such pluralistic approaches have not yet been fully exploited, nor applied to the context of care in warfare.

It is the aim of these proposed sessions to explore the role, agency, behaviour, and subjective experience of recipients and givers of care in times of warfare throughout the whole medieval period, taking in the early, central and later Middle Ages. Submissions from an interdisciplinary background are particularly welcomed, including, but not limited to, work on narrative texts, literary works, documentary records, artistic sources, religious texts and others. Geographical and linguistic scope is not limited. Proposals will be considered for inclusion in a possible publication.

Topics for discussion could include:
• The identity of caregivers, both formal and informal
• The identity of those requiring care
• Care of the wounded and care of the sick
• Gendered aspects of giving and receiving care
• Transportation of the sick, wounded, incapacitated
• Treatment of the dead
• Caring for enemies, or prisoners of war
• Physical and psychological care
• Spiritual care
• The depiction of care in literary or artistic sources
• The care of injured, incapacitated or disabled combatants
and non-combatants
• The care of animals in a military context
• The relationship between nursing and medical
care/treatment
• The absence of care

Abstracts of up to 300 words should be directed, to J.Phillips@leeds.ac.uk by 04 September 2017.

More info on Academia.edu

Podcast – Amputer au Moyen Âge par Patrice Georges

Archéologie de la santé – anthropologie du soin – Colloque international organisé par l’Inrap, en partenariat avec le Musée national de l’homme.
Les  30 novembre et  1er décembre 2016 à l’Auditorium Jean Rouch – Musée de l’Homme

par Patrice Georges, archéo-anthropologue à l’Institut national de recherches archéologiques préventives (Inrap) et membre de l’UMR 5608 TRACES

L’ensemble des sources disponibles pour le Moyen Âge, dans l’acception la plus large du terme, permet de documenter l’opération chirurgicale de l’amputation (« ablation d’une extrémité du corps, voire d’une partie du corps »), tant sur le plan théorique que pratique. Sources historiques et archives du sol montrent un acte chirurgical réfléchi, maîtrisé, avec des outils appropriés et accompagné des soins concomitants.

Patrice Georges est archéo-anthropologue à l’Institut national de recherches archéologiques préventives (Inrap) et membre de l’UMR 5608 TRACES « Travaux et recherches archéologiques sur les cultures, les espaces et les sociétés » (équipes Terrae et Pôle Afrique).

À ce titre, il consacre principalement ses recherches sur les pratiques funéraires et les gestes portés sur et autour du corps, en France comme à l’étranger. Il dirige la collection « Mourir à travers les siècles » aux éditions L’Harmattan.

Link for the podcast

CFP – Wounding and Caring: Vulnerable Bodies in Narrative at the American Comparative Literature Association – Utrecht University in Utrecht, the Netherlands July 6-9, 2017.

Seminar – Wounding and Caring: Vulnerable Bodies in Narrative at the American Comparative Literature Association – Utrecht University in Utrecht, the Netherlands July 6-9, 2017.

Organizer: Andreea Marculescu

Co-Organizer: Amit Baishya

 

Vulnerability is a key term in a strand of recent feminist scholarship (Adriana Cavarero, Judith Butler, Rosalyn Diprose, Kelly Oliver, Ann Murphy). Vulnerability is not defined here as a temporary situation specific to certain subjects; rather, as Butler points out in Frames of War, it is a condition of social life, one where the subject is exposed to forms of violence that she cannot anticipate or pre-empt. In this sense, vulnerability is intrinsic to definitions of the “human” and captures the subject in intersubjective relations with a host of (unknown and, possibly, unknowable) others. Consideration of vulnerability entails, thus, both the recognition of one’s own dependency on others and the designing of collective mechanisms and frameworks of care for bodies. Furthermore, following the etymological root of the word vulnerability (the Latin vulnus), Cavarero underlines that this category designates a susceptibility to both wounding and caring. As a wounded body, the subject is unilaterally exposed to pain and suffering. The subject afflicted by such violence is trapped in the reality of her own suffering; she cannot step away or fight against the infliction of suffering upon her. Yet, this suffering body can also be cared for by others.

 

Therefore, while the risk of violence done by the other is a crucial factor in the analysis of vulnerability, frames of care that recognize the existence of particular vulnerable bodies should also be part of the critical discourse about the ethical and ontological status of precarious subjects. Indeed, external socio-political frameworks are crucial in validating which subjects can be placed (or not) under the category of vulnerability. Hence the need, according to Butler, for the introduction of a term such as “grievability”—the condition of possibility that determines whether a life is encompassed within the frames of vulnerability, risk and precariousness. “Wounding,” “caring,” “grievability,” and “responsibility” become, therefore, key terms that must be critically elaborated in tracing the physico-emotional profile of vulnerable bodies and also the recognition of their socio-cultural value.

 

Keeping these insights in mind, this seminar seeks to discuss the narrative production, valuation and circulation of vulnerable bodies belonging to different historical, social and political contexts. As we mentioned above, vulnerability should be understood as a shared condition that places us in relationships of dependence and linkage to others. We would like to initiate a transhistorical and cross-cultural discussion about the representation of vulnerable bodies in the dual sense outlined above in this seminar.

Contact the Seminar Organizers

Submit a paper for this seminar.