New publication – Coming soon : “Living with Disfigurement in Early Medieval Europe” by Patricia Skinner

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Living with Disfigurement in Early Medieval Europe

by Patricia Skinner

This book examines social and medical responses to the disfigured face in early medieval Europe, arguing that the study of head and facial injuries can offer a new contribution to the history of early medieval medicine and culture, as well as exploring the language of violence and social interactions. Despite the prevalence of warfare and conflict in early medieval society, and a veritable industry of medieval historians studying it, there has in fact been very little attention paid to the subject of head wounds and facial damage in the course of war and/or punitive justice. The impact of acquired disfigurement —for the individual, and for her or his family and community—is barely registered, and only recently has there been any attempt to explore the question of how damaged tissue and bone might be treated medically or surgically. In the wake of new work on disability and the emotions in the medieval period, this study documents how acquired disfigurement is recorded across different geographical and chronological contexts in the period.

About the author: Patricia Skinner is Research Professor in Arts and Humanities at Swansea University, UK. She is the Director of the Effaced from History project, sponsored by the Wellcome Trust, and has previously published books on gender, medicine, and health, in addition to the social history of southern Italy.

Review (on the ditor website): “In this uncommonly refreshing contribution to the vibrant historical discourse on marginalisation, Skinner engages with current concerns beyond her chronological and thematic focus, while eschewing anachronism and reductionism. With ample evidence and spirited argument, she challenges widespread generalisations about past attitudes—and exposes persistent prejudices—towards the physically different.” (Luke Demaitre, Visiting Professor, Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities, University of Virginia, and author of “Leprosy in Premodern Medicine: A Malady of the Whole Body”)

 

More infos on the editor’s website

 

New publication – Childhood Disability and Social Integration in the Middle Ages, by Jenni Kuuliala

 See original image

 

Childhood Disability and Social Integration in the Middle Ages.

Constructions of Impairments in Thirteenth- and Fourteenth-Century Canonization Processes

by Jenni Kuuliala

 

In this volume, testimonies from medieval canonization processes are (for the first time) systematically used as sources for the study of medieval attitudes and everyday life concerning physical impairments, particularly of children.

This volume offers new insights into medieval disability studies by analysing miracle testimonies from canonization processes as sources for the study of medieval attitudes to and understanding of childhood physical impairments: how they were defined, and the social consequences of childhood disability on the family, on the community, and on children themselves.

In these texts, laypeople from different social groups carefully described events leading to children’s miraculous cures of physical impairments, as well as the conditions themselves. They thus provide an exceptionally rich (yet hitherto unexplored) window into the ways in which medieval society defined, explained, and understood children’s impairments.

Besides simply describing disabilities and miraculous cures, these testimonies also reveal various aspects of everyday experiences and communal attitudes towards impaired children. The few testimonies by the children themselves offer fascinating insights into personal experiences of physical disability and how disability affected a child’s socialization and the formation of identity.

This study thus aims to tease apart the often-complex ways in which medieval society both viewed physical differences and how it chose to (re)construct these differences in the discourse of the miraculous, as well as in everyday life.

 

Table of Contents

Introduction

Chapter 1: Family and the Conceptions of Impairment

Chapter 2: Community and the Impaired Child

Chapter 3: Reconstructing Lived Experience

Chapter 4: Conclusions: Impairment and Social Inclusion

Bibliography

 

Find more information on the editor’s bewsite

CFP – Histories of Healthy Ageing – University of Groningen, 21–23 June 2017

Histories of Healthy Ageing

University of Groningen, 21–23 June 2017

As Western populations grow increasingly older, ‘healthy ageing’ is presented as one of today’s greatest medical and societal challenges. However, contrary to what many policy makers want us to believe, the aspiration to live long, healthy and happy lives is not a problem specific to our times. On the contrary successful ageing has a long history.

The conference Histories of Healthy Ageing is based on the assumption that ‘healthy ageing’ has informed the medical agenda since Antiquity. With ‘healthy ageing’ we refer to ways of thinking about and treating the body not only from a medical perspective, but also taking into account questions of what constitutes a happy and fulfilled life. In particular these latter issues were central to medicine before 1800 and relate to healthy living as much as to questions connected specifically to old age. Thus whether we speak of classic ways of training the athlete’s body, medieval religious rites, the pre-modern obsession with regimen (rules for living a healthy life), or the upper-class fancy to visit spas, at the root of it all was a wish for wellbeing, health and longevity.

The conference focuses especially (but not exclusively) on the pre-modern period. Submissions for 20-minute papers should include a 250-word abstract and a short CV. Subject to funding small travel grants might be available for junior researchers.
Possible topics include:

  • Histories of diet and dietetics, ‘sports’, spas and bathing, medication and life-elixirs, etc.
  • The materiality of healthy living and ageing (pills, powders and elixirs, bath houses, exercise apparatus, scales and the like)
  • Aesthetics and the history of cosmetic surgery
  • Prognosis and historical efforts to chart life expectancy
  • Relations between patients and doctors
  • Ars Moriendi and resilience in the face of illness and death
  • Healthy living and ageing outside academic medicine (quacks, alchemy, homeopathy)
  • Narratives of ‘healthy ageing’
  • The philosophical question of what constitutes a long and happy life
  • Life cycles
  • The understanding and application of the six ‘non-naturals’
  • Healthy ageing and the arts

Keynote lectures:

At the conference 5 keynote lectures will centre on the non-naturals, the areas defined by Hippocratic writers as the basis of health management and disease prevention.

  • Food and Drink by Elizabeth Williams (Oklahoma State)
  • Exercise and Rest by Onno van Nijf (Groningen)
  • Sleep and Wakefulness by William Maclehose (UC London)
  • Excretion and Retention by Michael Stolberg (Würzburg)
  • Perturbations of the Mind and Emotions by Irena Metzler (Swansea)

In addition to these specialised lectures there will be a public lecture by Robert Zwijnenberg (Leiden University) on Pre-modern Healthy Ageing and Modern Bio-medical Art.
Exhibition

The conference will be accompanied by an exhibition in the Groningen University Museum and the University Medical Centre Groningen (UMCG).
It opens June 2017.
Conference Organisers: Rina Knoeff, Ruben Verwaal, Catrien Santing, James Kennaway, Rolf ter Sluis.

Submissions and queries should be sent to: historiesofhealthyageing@gmail.com

Call closes: 1 December 2016

Download the Call for Papers here.

New Publication – Fools and idiots? Intellectual disability in the Middle Ages by Irina Metzler

Fools and idiots?

 

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9636-5
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £70.00
  • Published Date: February 2016
  • BIC Category: History, History of medicine, History & Archaeology, European history: medieval period, middle ages, CE period up to c 1500, HISTORY / Medieval, Medicine / History of medicine, Humanities / Medieval history, MEDICAL / History

 

Fools and idiots? is the first book devoted to the cultural history in the pre-modern period of people we now describe as having learning disabilities. Using an interdisciplinary approach, including historical semantics, medicine, natural philosophy and law, Irina Metzler considers a neglected field of social and medical history and makes an original contribution to the problem of a shifting concept such as ‘idiocy’.

Medieval physicians, lawyers and the schoolmen of the emerging universities wrote the texts which shaped medieval definitions of intellectual ability and its counterpart, disability. In studying such texts, which form part of our contemporary scientific and cultural heritage, we gain a better understanding of which people were considered to be intellectually disabled, and how their participation and inclusion in society differed from the situation today. This book will be required reading for anyone studying or working in disability studies, history of medicine, social history and the history of ideas.

 

Contents

1. Pre-/conceptions: problems of definition and historiography
2. From morio to fool: semantics of intellectual disability
3. Cold complexions and moist humors: natural science and intellectual disability
4. The infantile and the irrational: mind, soul and intellectual disability
5. Non-consenting adults: laws and intellectual disability
6. Fools, pets and entertainers: socio-cultural considerations of intellectual disability
7. Reconsiderations: rationality, intelligence and human status
Select bibliography
Index

More informations on the editor website

 

CFP – Kalamazoo – Before and After 1348: Prelude and Consequences of the Black Death

Session on Black Death at International Congress on Medieval Studies (Kalamazoo), May 11-14, 2017

“Before and After 1348:  Prelude and Consequences of the Black Death,” organized by Monica Green, email: monica.green@asu.edu.
Abstract:  The “new paradigm” of Black Death studies has adopted the findings of recent paleogenetics and evolutionary understandings of Yersinia pestis‘s late medieval genetic diversification to see the Black Death as a much broader epidemiological phenomenon than previously realized. Although Black Death narratives are usually told from the perspective of western Europe, it is in fact likely that much of Eurasia and North Africa was affected by the newly proliferating organism. And in many of those areas, we know now, plague “focalized,” becoming embedded in the local fauna and thus persisting for years, or even centuries, thereafter. This session invites work that looks both at the late medieval pandemic’s origins before 1348 (whether in China or other places in central Eurasia) and its after-effects, including the 1360-63 pestis secunda. Cultural as well as scientific approaches are welcome.

Please send proposals directly to me: monica.green@asu.edu.  Paper proposals (a one-page abstract and a Participant Information Form) are due by September 15. The links to information on the submission process and the Participation Information Form may be found at http://www.wmich.edu/medievalcongress/submissions. For the statement on Congress rules, see: http://www.wmich.edu/medievalcongress/policies.

You may wish to know that the newly created Contagions: Society for Historic Infectious Disease Studies will also be sponsoring two sessions, tentatively entitled “Historic Landscapes of Disease,” and “The Great Transition: Climate, Disease, and Society in the Late Medieval World: A Roundtable on Bruce Campbell’s New Book.” For info on those sessions, please contact Michelle Ziegler, zieglerm@slu.edu.

 

More information on the American Association for the History of Medicine website