Humanity has always shown a keen interest in the pathological, ranging from a morbid fascination with ‘monsters’ and deformities to a genuine compassion for the ill and suffering. Medieval and early modern people were no exception, expressing their emotional response to disease in both literary works and, to a somewhat lesser extent, in the plastic arts. Consequently, it becomes necessary to ask what motivated writers and artists to choose an illness or a disability and its physical and social consequences as subjects of aesthetic or intellectual expression. Were these works the result of an intrusion in their intent to faithfully reproduce nature, or do they reflect an intentional contrast against the pre-modern portrayal of spiritual ideals and, later, through the influence of the classics, the rediscovered importance and beauty of the human body?
The essays contained in this volume address these questions, albeit not always directly but, rather, through an analysis of the societal reactions to the threats and challenges that essentially unopposed disease and physical impairment presented. They cover a wide range of responses, variable, of course, according to the period under scrutiny, its technological moment, and the usually fruitless attempts at treatment.
- Introduction and Epidemiological Perspective — Rinaldo F. Canalis and Massimo Ciavolella
Part I. Medieval and Transitional Periods
- The Art of Medicine in Byzantium: Disease and Disability in Byzantine Manuscripts — Alain Touwaide
- Miracle and the Monstrous: Disability and Deviant Bodies in the Late Middle Ages — Jenni Kuuliala
- Leprosy, Melancholy, Folly and their Representations in French Medieval Literature — Gaia Gubini
- Malady in Literary Texts from the Medieval and Early Modern Periods. Some Hypotheses on a Paradoxical Constellation — Joachim Küpper
- Fevers, Botches and Carbuncles: Describing the Plague in Late Medieval and Early Modern Medical Treatises — Lori Jones
Part II. The Early Modern Period
- The Role of Architecture and the Decorative Arts in Renaissance Medicine — Francis Wells
- Art in Disease and Disease in Art: Reflections on Two Early Modern Paradigmatic Examples — Manuela Gallerani
- The Mal Franzoso: Between Art, History and Literature: Paracelso and Della Porta — Alfonso Paolella
- The Ailing Artist — Roberto Fedi
- Nicolas Poussin`s The Plague at Ashdod and the French Disease — Efrain Kristal
- ‘Yet have I in me something dangerous’: On the Interplay of Medicine and Maleficence in Shakespeare’s Hamlet — Sara Frances Burdorff
- Textures of Lesions – Textures of Prints — Domenico Bertoloni Meli
More info on the editor website
Portraits of Human Monsters in the Renaissance – Dwarves, Hirsutes, and Castrati as Idealized Anatomical Anomalies
by Touba Ghadessi
publication by Medieval Institute Publications
From the editors website :
« At the center of this interdisciplinary study are court monsters–dwarves, hirsutes, and misshapen individuals–who, by their very presence, altered Renaissance ethics vis-à-vis anatomical difference, social virtues, and scientific knowledge. The study traces how these monsters evolved from objects of curiosity, to scientific cases, to legally independent beings. The works examined here point to the intricate cultural, religious, ethical, and scientific perceptions of monstrous individuals who were fixtures in contemporary courts. »
More infos from the Editors website.
CFP for Monstrous Monarch/Royal Monsters at MAP 2018 in Las Vegas, NV April 12-15.
Organised by Medieval Association of the Pacific, the Rocky Mountain Medieval and the Renaissance Association
Medieval and early modern societies defined monstrosity in a multitude of ways, assigning the term to figures representing the supernatural “other” and to those representing human alterities. Monsters filled the national consciousness of societies throughout the medieval and early modern worlds. Indeed, the monster became an allegory for a society’s relativisms and fears. So, what happens when the monster is the monarch him or herself—or when the monster is a member of the royal family? How might the term be defined differently or specifically for the sake of this unique person? What special circumstances might be attached to the term and its parameters when the monarch and his or her relationship to the State and its people is concerned? Monarchs of the medieval and early modern periods were deeply concerned about their legacies, and prioritized the public memory of their reigns and dynasties very highly. Similarly, literary and artistic representations of royalty and monarchs often showcase the concerns of dynasty, heredity, and reputation. How is public memory affected when the monarch, or a member of a royal dynasty, is remembered as monstrous for posterity? Moreover, how is royal legacy affected when the term “monster” becomes attached to the monarch while he or she is still living?
MEARCSTAPA invites proposals in all disciplines of the humanities and for all nations, regions, language groups, and cultures of the medieval and early modern periods globally. Please send proposals of 250 words maximum to Asa Mittman firstname.lastname@example.org, Thea Tomaini email@example.com, and Ilan Mitchell-Smith Ilan.firstname.lastname@example.org by 14 November 2017.
Leprosy and the Leper Reconsidered
Montreal, 20-22 September 2018
They are pleased to announce the call for papers for Leprosy and the Leper Reconsidered, which will take place at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. This is an interdisciplinary and trans-historical conference which seeks both to unite and to broaden the discourse on leprosy sufferers and leprosy. In this way, this conference aims to highlight and discuss the presence of leprosy not only across time, but also across physical borders and spaces. Indeed, this conference aims to erase such boundaries in order to foster a more encompassing discussion of such a global disease. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is a growing need to address leprosy within an interdisciplinary framework in order to expand our understanding of changing discourse, medical, social, and popular, surrounding the disease and the afflicted.
The conference will have plenary talks from Susan Burns (University of Chicago) and Luke Demaitre (University of Virginia).
They invite proposals for papers of approximately 20 minutes or posters that engage with the themes of leprosy sufferers, leprosy, and perceptions of the disease from various disciplinary approaches, such as history, literature, art history, archaeology, anthropology, bioarchaeology, material culture, or others. Possible topics may include, but are by no means limited to:
- Cultural responses to leprosy
- Changing perceptions of leprosy
- Religious understandings of leprosy
- Colonial and Post-Colonial approaches to the regulation of leprosy sufferers
- Leprosy in popular culture (e.g. books, film, etc.)
- Physicians responses to leprosy
- Missions and missionaries
- The lexicon of leprosy
- Material culture surrounding leprosy sufferers and medical responses to leprosy.
Those wishing to participate should please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words, a brief bio and a one-page CV to email@example.com no later than 20 October 2017. They ask that you indicate whether you would like to be considered as a speaker or to present a poster. Please attach your documents as either a Microsoft Word or PDF file and include your name and home institution on all files. For further information please check their website or on Twitter.
Representations of the Body in Saga Literature
For ICMS at Western Michigan University – Kalamazoo, MI – May 10-13, 2018
The New England Saga Society is delighted to once again offer a panel for those interested in Old Norse literature, history, and culture. We are currently seeking proposals for our sponsored session, “Representations of the Body in Saga Literature,” a panel that will explore the ways in which bodies and corporeality are constructed and represented in saga literature.
The body is an object upon which culture writes itself. It is the site of definition and re-definition as it witnesses history, moves through time and space, and is shaped by social, political, and cultural phenomena. Understanding how medieval audiences viewed the body and participated in the social construction of the body as object is essential to a better appreciation of medieval ideations of the human condition. We are interested in cultural, ideological, and literary investigations of the experience of embodiment in medieval Scandinavia and the representation of this experience in literature, art, philosophy, ethics, law, theology, and science.
Topics could include, but are not limited to:
ideological constructions of the body
ableness and disability
gender and sexuality
illness, death, and dismemberment
pagan vs. Christian bodies
medical transformations of the body
body as landscape
images of bodies
Brief (200-300 word) proposals are welcome anytime before September 15, 2017. Please e-mail abstracts to either of the organizers:
Andrew Pfrenger (firstname.lastname@example.org)
John P. Sexton (email@example.com)