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 – ‘“Why is my pain perpetual?” (Jer 15:18): Chronic Pain in the Middle Ages’ – London – 29 september 2017

Conference: ‘“Why is my pain perpetual?” (Jer 15:18): Chronic Pain in the Middle Ages’
Location: Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London, London, UK
Date: Friday, 29 September 2017

Extended deadline : Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Pain is a universal human experience. We have all hurt at some point, felt that inescapable sensory challenge to our physical equanimity, our health and well-being compromised. Typically, our agonies are fleeting. For some, however, suffering becomes an artefact of everyday living: our pain becomes ‘chronic’. Chronic pain is persistent, usually lasting for three months or more, does not respond well to analgesia, and does not improve after the usual healing period of any injury.
Following Elaine Scarry’s (1985) seminal work The Body in Pain, researchers from various humanities disciplines have productively studied pain as a physical phenomenon with wide-ranging emotional and socio-cultural effects. Medievalists have also analysed acute pain, elucidating a specifically medieval construction of physical distress. In almost all such scholarship – modern and medieval – chronic pain has been overlooked.
The new field of medieval disability studies has also neglected chronic pain as a primary object of study. Instead, disability scholars in the main focus on ‘visible’ and ‘mainstream’ disabilities, such as blindness, paralysis, and birth defects. Indeed, disability historian Beth Linker argued in 2013 that ‘[m]ore historical attention should be paid to the unhealthy disabled’, including those in chronic pain (‘On the Borderland’, 526). This conference seeks specifically to pay ‘historical attention’ to chronic pain in the medieval era. It will bring together researchers from across disciplines working on chronic pain, functioning as a collaborative space for medievalists to enter into much-needed conversations on this highly overlooked area of scholarship.

Prof Esther Cohen (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), one of the foremost scholars on pain in the Middle Ages, will deliver the keynote address at the conference.

Relevant topics for this conference include:
· Medieval conceptions and theories of chronic pain, as witnessed by scientific, medical, and theological works
· Paradigms of chronic pain developed in modern scholarship – and what medievalists can learn from, and contribute to, them
· Comparative analyses of chronic pain in religious versus secular narratives
· Recognition or rejection of chronic pain as an affirmative subjective identity
· Chronic pain and/as disability
· The potential share-ability of pain in medieval narratives, such as texts which show an individual taking on the pain of another
· The relationship between affect and the severity, understanding, and experience of pain
· The manner in which gender impacts the experience, expression, and management of an individual’s chronic pain

If you’re interested in speaking at the conference, please submit an abstract of 250-300 words and a brief bio to the organiser, Alicia Spencer-Hall (a.spencer-hall [at] qmul.ac.uk), by 15 January 2017. Please also stipulate your audio-visual requirements in your submission (e.g. projector, speakers, and so forth).

NB Speakers will need to register for the conference in due course. The registration fee is £20. The fee is waived completely for concessions (students, the unwaged, retired scholars).

If you have any queries, including access requirements, please do not hesitate to contact the organiser.

This conference contributes to the ‘Sense and Sensation’ research strand at UCL’s Institute of Advanced Studies. This strand also comprises a Reading Group focused on chronic pain. To join the Reading Group, please email the organiser, Alicia Spencer-Hall.

More info on Alicia’s blog

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.

CFP – Sponsored Panel on “Gendered Experiences of Pain” at 52nd – ICMS Kalamazoo 2017

CfP – Sponsored Panel on “Gendered Experiences of Pain” at 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, 2017

Panel title: “Everybody’s (Gender) Hurts: Gendered Experiences of Pain”

Sponsored by: Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship

Conference: 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, (MI, USA), 11-14 May, 2017


Following Elaine Scarry’s (1985) seminal work The Body in Pain, researchers from various disciplines have productively studied pain as a physical phenomenon with wide-ranging emotional and socio-cultural effects (e.g. Boddice 2014; Cohen et al 2012; Davies 2014; Morris 1991; Moscoso 2012).  Academics and scientist-clinicians have demonstrated that the experience of pain is highly gendered (see e.g. Bendelow 1993; Bernardes et al 2014; Hoffmann and Tarzian 2001). For example, the severity of women’s pain is often less readily accepted by medics. Women in pain are more likely to be dismissed as attention-seeking or suffering from psycho-somatic conditions than men. Painful conditions that affect many women, such as endometriosis, are woefully under-studied.

Medievalists have also analysed pain, including its’ gendered dimension, elucidating a specifically medieval construction of physical distress (see e.g. Cohen 1995, 2000, 2010; Easton 2002; Mills 2005; Mowbray, 2009). In particular, Caroline Walker Bynum’s ground-breaking feminist scholarship (see e.g. 1988, 1992) has shown the specific ways in which medieval holy women harnessed ascetic suffering as forms of empowering worship praxes.

This panel will examine the gendered experience of pain in the medieval period, engaging with, and moving beyond, the limited context of holy women established by Bynum. It will dissect the ways in which men and women experienced — or were understood to experience — pain differerently, to elucidate the wider framework of gender-specific suffering in the period. The subjective experiences of medieval men and women in pain will be unearthed, allowing their marginalised voices to add context and further urgency to contemporary debates about inadequate medical care for modern men and women in pain.


Relevant questions for this session include:

· How are the pains of  “women’s complaints” — including menstruation and childbirth — depicted, and understood in the medieval era? Are other forms of physical discomfort coded as predominantly feminineeven if they have no direct biological link to womanhood? Are there similar “male” forms of pain?

· How are men and women socialised differently to understand, to contextualise, and ultimately to experience their pain? How do men and women express their pain? And share their pain with those around them? Are specific patterns of lexis, imagery, or metaphor routinely used by either men and women, or both?

· What differences can we observe between the ways in which men and women in pain are treated by medical practitioners, the religious community, and their families? What was the contemporary rationale for classifying and treating men and women’s pain differently? As a counterpoint: what similarities are there in the treatment of pain for men and women? Does the pain experience ever unite suffering men and women as a cohesive group, a group in which pain — and not genderis the most important identity marker?
If you’re interested in speaking on this panel, please submit the following documents to the panel organiser, Alicia Spencer-Hall (a.spencer-hall [at] qmul.ac.uk), by 15 September 2017:

1) One-page abstract

2) Completed Participant Information Form (downloadable in .pdf and Word format from the Conference website)
N.B. Conference regulations stipulate that speakers may only present on one panel each year at Kalamazoo. As such, we cannot consider papers from individuals who have already submitted abstract proposals to other sessions at the conference. Nevertheless, if a paper submission is not selected for the “Gendered Experiences of Pain” panel, we will forward the submission to the Conference organisers for potential inclusion in a General Session.

View this CfP online , via @aspencerhall