CFP – The Maladies, Miracles and Medicine of the Middle Ages III ‘Patients, Prayers and Pilgrims’ – org. by The Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Reading – Friday 1 April 2022

HeaIthcare in the Middle Age covered a broad range of practices, influenced by religious and scholarly theories of the body. Patients might look to a range of restorative practices from herbal remedies to more invasive procedures, not to mention charms and prayers. In their search for cure, they might also turn to various healers with practitioners ranging from high-end university-trained physicians, to local wise women, and even the ‘saintly physicians’ whose form of miraculous care emanated from the shrines. Healing could thus be sought through a variety of channels that both complemented and competed against one another.

What can we leam about those who engaged with medieval healthcare? Where do the various forms of healthcare sit in relation to each other and in relation to religious and/or academic understanding of corporeal health? In what ways were the ill and impaired able to access healing, and what form did this take?

Within the third ‘Maladies, Miracles and Medicine’ of this quadrennial series of conferences we invite post-graduate and early-career researchers to come together to consider this theme in relation to health, ill health, and healing. The conference welcomes papers on all aspects of this theme whether your interests lie in archaeology, art, literature, medicine and science, or mireacles and theology (or a little bit of everything).

However, specific themes to consider are:

  • environments and experiences of care and recovery
  • gender in relation to practices and treatments
  • practitioners and particular treatrnents within medieval healthcare
  • pilgrims as ‘patients’, saints as ‘healers’
  • the senses and sensory experiences of ill health and cure
  • birth, death (and everything in between!)
  • healing charms and magical medicine
  • representations and realities of the ill and healthy body

Proposals of 200-words (max.) for twenty-minute papers fitting broadly into one of the above themes are welcomed from all post-graduate and early-career researchers before the deadline 10 January 2022.

Proposals and further enquiries should be sent to the organisers (Dr Ruth Salter, Anne Jeavons, and Claire Collins) via: maladies.miracles.medicine@gmail.com. Full details will be released closer to the date, but we are hoping this will be able to go ahead in person rather than online.

New book – Donna Trembinski, Illness and Authority: Disability in the Life and Lives of Francis of Assisi, University of Toronton Press, 2020.

Illness and Authority: Disability in the Life and Lives of Francis of Assisi, University of Toronton Press, 2020.

Illness and Authority examines the lived experience and early stories about St. Francis of Assisi through the lens of disability studies. This new approach re-centres Francis’s illnesses and infirmities and highlights how they became barriers to wielding traditional modes of masculine authority within both the Franciscan Order he founded and the church hierarchy. So concerned were members of the Franciscan leadership that the future saint was compelled to seek out medical treatment and spent the last two years of his life in the nearly constant care of doctors. Unlike other studies of Francis’s ailments, Illness and Authority focuses on the impact of his illnesses on his autonomy and secular power, rather than his spiritual authority.

From downplaying the comfort Francis received from music to disappearing doctors in the narratives of his life, early biographers worked to minimize the realities of his infirmities. When they could not do so, they turned the saint’s experiences into teachable moments that demonstrated his saintly and steadfast devotion and his trust in God. Illness and Authority explores the struggles that early authors of Francis’s vitae experienced as they tried to make sense of a saint whose life did not fit the traditional rhythms of a founder-saint.

  • Page Count: 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.2in x 1.0in x 9.1in

More information on the editor website

 

CFP – Illness as Metaphor in the Latin Middle Ages – Leeds International Medieval Congress 2021

… et sermo eorum ut cancer serpit (2 Tim 2:17)

Susan Sontag hoped her thought-provoking essay Illness as Metaphor (1978) to contribute to the „elucidation (…) and liberation” from metaphors in both social attitudes to illness and its individual experience. Although we can hardly think our existence without resorting to metaphorical language, critical analysis may help to understand how and to what extent the contemporary discourse is shaped by the historical figures of disease. This seems all the more important as this imagery will certainly stay with us in the post-pandemic world.

The session seeks to provide a forum for scholars to reflect on the variation and functions of metaphors of illness in the Latin writing of the Middle Ages. We encourage papers that investigate how the imagery of morbus, pestilentia, gangraena etc. structured individual experience and how it shaped self-knowledge and practices of communities. We invite original contributions that critically examine the role that Latin metaphors of illness played in medieval discourse as a tool of explaining reality and as a rhetorical device used to impose specific world views.

Questions we would like to suggest include, but are not limited to:

  • What was the scope of the metaphors? Which fields of individual experience and social life in the Middle Ages were particularly represented in terms of illness?
  • What are the sources, prototypical examples and creative uses of the figures of disease in medieval Latin texts?
  • How did the use of metaphors vary across text genres, times and space?
  • To what aims did medieval Latin writers employ metaphors of illness? What was their role in persuasive writing (religious and political polemics, preaching etc.)?• Could metaphorical discourse shape social attitudes in the Middle Ages? Which aspects of the reality did medieval metaphors highlight and which did they hide?
  • How was the imagery of disease employed in explaining natural and social phenomena? What was its role in structuring individual (religious, emotional etc.) experience?

Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words to Krzysztof Nowak (krzysztof.nowak@ijp.pan.pl) by the 10th of September 2020. Unfortunately, the project cannot cover congress fees or expenses incurred by the session participants.

Session Sponsor Project eFontes. The electronic corpus of Polish medieval Latin (https://scriptores.pl/efontes)

Session Organizer Krzysztof Nowak, Department of Medieval Latin
Institute of Polish Language (Polish Academy of Sciences)

More on Scriptores website

Podcast – talk between Wendy Turner and Chris Mounsey on medieval mental health and eighteenth-century sight impairment

#126 History Hack: Disabilities in History

Wendy Turner and Chris Mounsey join forces to talk about the challenges of researching disabilities in history. Using their specialisations in medieval mental health and eighteenth century sight impairment, they tell a wider tale of difficulties in terminology, understanding human experience, for which solutions are evolving constantly. 

 

Link to the podcast

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.