New book – Literature and Intellectual Disability in Early Modern England: Folly, Law and Medicine, 1500-1640 by Alice Equestri, published by Routledge

Fools and clowns were widely popular characters employed in early modern drama, prose texts and poems mainly as laughter makers, or also as ludicrous metaphorical embodiments of human failures. Literature and Intellectual Disability in Early Modern England: Folly, Law and Medicine, 1500-1640 pays full attention to the intellectual difference of fools, rather than just their performativity: what does their total, partial, or even pretended ‘irrationality’ entail in terms of non-standard psychology or behaviour, and others’ perception of them? Is it possible to offer a close contextualised examination of the meaning of folly in literature as a disability? And how did real people having intellectual disabilities in the Renaissance period influence the representation and subjectivity of literary fools?

Alice Equestri answers these and other questions by investigating the wide range of significant connections between the characters and Renaissance legal and medical knowledge as presented in legal records, dictionaries, handbooks, and texts of medicine, natural philosophy, and physiognomy. Furthermore, by bringing early modern folly in closer dialogue with the burgeoning fields of disability studies and disability theory, this study considers multiple sides of the argument in the historical disability experience: intellectual disability as a variation in the person and as a difference which both society and the individual construct or respond to. Early modern literary fools’ characterisation then emerges as stemming from either a realistic or also from a symbolical or rhetorical representation of intellectual disability.

Introduction: Fools, from Popular Culture to Disability Studies

Section 1: Law

2. The Legal Discourse of ‘Idiocy’ on the Stage and Page

3. ‘A fool and his money are soon parted’: the Fool and Property

4. ‘An you knew my properties somebody would ha’ me’: the Fool as a Ward

Section 2: Medicine and Physiognomy

5. Nature, Wits and Skulls: the Fool’s Head

6. Intellectual, Sensory and Physical Disability: the Fool’s Body and Face

7. Rationalising Fools’ Disability: Causes and Risk Factors

8. Epilogue: Intellectual Disability, Embodiment and Humour in Early Modern Literature

Alice Equestri is a researcher and lecturer in early modern English literature at the University of Padua. Between 2017 and 2019, she was a Marie Sklodowska-Curie researcher at the University of Sussex. She is the author of ‘Armine… Thou Art a Foole and Knave’: The Fools of Shakespeare’s Romances (2016) and has published on folly in early modern culture, on Shakespeare’s last plays, and on Renaissance translation.

CFP: Disability Cluster for Yearbook of Langland Studies 35 (2021) – Disability in Pierce Plowman

CFP: Disability Cluster for Yearbook of Langland Studies 35 (2021)


This special cluster will explore the representations of disability and impairment in Piers Plowman. Langland reveals the ambivalent and multifaceted attitude toward disability and impairment in the 14th century. Characters in the poem often treat disabled figures with either love or skepticism. On one hand, those who are too infirm to work are excused from the demands of labor, and are deemed worthy of charity and God’s love. On the other, there are « faitours » who readily assume the guise of impairment in order to deceive and evade the duty to work. Will himself is interrogated by Reason in the C-Text about his inability to work, and he cites his own embodied difference, being too tall, as a justification. This cluster invites essays that examine disability in Piers Plowman from a variety of methodological approaches. Are there different representations of disability across the versions of the poem? How do representations of disability in the poem intersect with legal, theological, or social concerns in the 14th century? What is the role of physical, cognitive, or sensory impairment in the poem? How can we put the poem into conversation with Disability Studies? How does a consideration of disability in Piers Plowman reorient or contribute to current work on Langland? To medieval Disability Studies?


Submissions are due to the cluster editor, Richard Godden (rgoddenl@lsu.edu), by 30 September, 2020.

CFP – International Piers Plowman Society – Miami April 4 – 6 , 2019

Call for Papers – International Piers Plowman Society

Meeting Miami, April 4 – 6 , 2019 – Due Date for Submissions: September 7 , 2018

 

7. Medicine and the Body in Piers Plowman : A Roundtable

Organizer, Laura Godfrey, University of Connecticut (la ra.godfrey@uconn.edu)

Scholars have traditionally read the medical language, characters, and practices in Piers Plowman as symbolic of salvation, reducing actual medical practice to metaphor and symbolism. Recent scholarly turns to the body recenter the body in literary texts through attention to the somatic experiences described through allegory, satire, and personification. This roundtable invites papers that interrogate illness and remedy, the body and embodiment, the senses, and the theory and practice of medicine in Piers Plowman and alliterative poetry.

 

16 . Disability in the Age of Piers Plowman

Organizer: Rick Godden, Louisiana State University (rgodden1@lsu.edu)

This session will explore the representations of disability and impairment in the fourteen th century, especially withi n Piers Plowman or related texts. Langland reveals the fourteenth century’s ambivalent and multifaceted attitude toward disability and impairment. Characters in the poe m often treat disabled figures with either love or skepticism. On one hand, those who are too infirm to work are excused from the demands of labor, and are deemed worthy of charity and God’s love. On the other, there are “faitours” who readily assume the g uise of impairment in order to deceive and evade the duty to work. Will himself is interrogated by Reason in the C – Text about his inability to work, and he cites his own embodied difference, being too tall, as a justification. This session invites papers that examine disability in medieval literature from a variety of methodological approaches. Are there different representations of disability across the versions of Piers Plowman ? How do representations of disability in the poem intersect with legal, theol ogical, or social concerns in the fourteenth century? How do writers contemporary to Langland treat disability? What is the role of physical, cognitive, or s omatic impairment in the poem? How can we put the poem into conversation with Disability Studies? How does a consideration of disability in Piers Plowman reorient or contribute to current work on Langland? To medieval Disability Studies?

 

More info on the conference’s website

CFP – The Body and the Text: Medical Humanities and Medieval Literature, c. 1150 – 1550 Leeds International Medieval Congress, 1-4 July 2019

The Body and the Text: Medical Humanities and Medieval Literature, c. 1150 – 1550

Leeds International Medieval Congress, 1-4 July 2019

Recent years have witnessed a surge in scholarship in the field of the Medical Humanities. In considering medicine in its cultural and social contexts, the Medical Humanities has symbolised a ‘paradigm shift away from what might be called medical reductionism to medical holism, where patients are not reduced to diseases and bodies but rather are seen as whole persons in contexts and in relations’ (Cole et al, 2015:8). In seeking to merge disciplines and foster interactive dialogues, this area of research is inherently inclusive, dynamic, and elastic. Furthermore, since the topics of science, medicine, eith physiology, religion, astrology, and magic were often discussed withinh the same medieval texts and contexts, te multidisciplinarity of the Medical Humanities is particularly apt for Medieval Studies.

We therefore seek to put together a session or sessions on Medieval Literature and the Medical Humanities. Our focus is global and will include proposals from two complementary directions: how are medicine, health and wellbeing represented in medieval and early modern literature? How may literary texts from this period contribute to training and practice in the Medical Humanities?

Proposals may include but are not confined to the following: Representations of health and sickness in literary texts;

  • Depictions of medical knowledge, practice and practitioners in literary texts;
  • Representations of the senses and / or emotions;
  • The relationship between medicine and religion in the Middle Ages;
  • Engagement with texts (reading and listening) as a therapeutic practice in the Middle Ages;
  • A consideration of how medieval literature might contribute to training and practice in the Medical Humanities;
  • Defining the Medical Humanities in a medieval context.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted to the session organisers Dr Alison Williams (a.j.williams@swansea…uk) and It Laura Kalas Williams (I.e.williams@swansea.ac.uk) by 31 August 2018.

Colloquium – Asclepius, the Paintbrush, and the Pen: Representations of Disease in Medieval and Early Modern European Art and Literature – May 4/5 – CMRS Medical Humanities Conference (UCLA)

CMRS Medical Humanities Conference

Asclepius, the Paintbrush, and the Pen: Representations of Disease in Medieval and Early Modern European Art and Literature

May 4May 5

Humanity has always approached disease with a mixture of curiosity and dread. Medieval and early modern people were no exception, displaying a deep fascination with virulent ailments and all sorts of physical deformities. But despite this a attraction, few artists of these eras engaged in the depiction of disease. When they did, their expression was particular to the medium used and differed among artists even when using the same medium. Since such an effort was outside their norm, what factors drove them to pick up pen or brush to approach maladies as a subject of esthetic expression? How did the artists’ experiences influence their choices in portraying disease? Were these depictions the result of something that interfered with their intent to faithfully reproduce the best of nature, or do they reflect a rebellion against what we generally assume to be the period`s artistic and literary quest: the portrayal of spiritual beauty and, later, the rediscovered beauty of the human body?

This conference, organized by Professor Massimo Ciavolella (Italian, UCLA) and Professor Rinaldo Canalis, MD (David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA), engages these questions and the contemporary perspective they elicit.

Funding for this symposium is provided by the Endowment for the UCLA Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies.

 

SATURDAY, MAY 5, 2018 | UCLA ROYCE HALL 314
8:30 AM Registration, coffee
9:00 Welcoming Remarks
Session I | Allison Collins (UCLA), chair
9:15 Francis Wells (Royal Papworth Hospital, Cambridge)
“The Role of the Decorative Arts in Disease”
10:00 Break
10:15 Joachim Küpper (Freie Universität Berlin)
“Malady in Literary Texts from the Medieval and the Early Modern Periods – Some Hypotheses On a Paradoxical Constellation”
11:00 Break
11:15 Gaia Gubbini (Freie Universität Berlin)
“Leprosy, Melancholy, Folly, and their Representations in Medieval French Literature”
12:00 PM Break
12:15 Alain Touwaide (UCLA, The Huntington, and Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions )
“The Art of Medicine in Byzantium: Disease and Disability in Byzantine Manuscripts”
1:00 Lunch Break
Session II | Rinaldo Canalis (UCLA), chair
2:15 Domenico Bertoloni Meli (Indiana University Bloomington)
“Textures of Lesions – Textures of Prints”
3:00 Break
3:15 Manuela Gallerani (Università di Bologna)
“Illness in art and art in illness: reflections based on paradigmatic works by Italian Renaissance artists”
4:00 Break
4:15 Sara Frances Burdorff (UCLA)
“‘Yet have I in me something dangerous’: Demonopathy, the Pox, and the Melancholy Dane in Shakespeare’s Hamlet
SATURDAY, MAY 5, 2018 | UCLA ROYCE HALL 314
9:00 Coffee
Session III | Monique Kornell (CMRS Associate), chair
9:30 Valeria Finucci (Duke University)
“The King and the Art of Brain Surgery”
10:15 Break
10:30 Alfonso Paolella (University of Naples)
“The ‘mal franzoso’ between art, history and literature. Paracelso and Della Porta”
11:15 Break
11:30 Efraín Kristal (UCLA)
“Nicolas Poussin’s ‘The Plague at Ashdod’ and the French Disease”
12:15 Lunch Break
Session IV | Guendalina Ajello Mahler (CMRS Associate )
1:30 Jenni Kuuliala (University of Tampere)
“Miracle and the Monstrous: Disability and Deviant Bodies in the Late Middle Ages”
2:15 Break
2:30 Lori Jones (University of Ottawa)
“‘Fevers, Botches, and Carbuncles’: Describing the Plague in Late Medieval and Early Modern Medical Treatises”
3:15 Break
3:30 Roberto Fedi (Università per Stranieri di Perugia)
“The Ailing Artist”
4:15 Concluding Remarks