The Senses in Medieval and Renaissance Europe: Hearing and Auditory Perception
Trinity College Dublin
24-25 April 2020
Proposals for papers are invited for a conference on The Senses in Medieval and Renaissance Europe: Hearing and Auditory Perception, which aims to provide an international and interdisciplinary forum for researchers with an interest in the history of the senses in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
Professor David Hendy, University of Sussex
Echoes on the Air: How Modern Media Evoke and Dramatize
The history of the senses is a rapidly expanding field of research. Pioneered in Early Modern and Modern Studies, it is now attracting attention also from Medieval and Renaissance specialists. Preoccupation with the human senses and with divine control over them is evident in a range of narrative texts, scientific treatises, creative literature, as well as the visual arts and music from the pre-modern period. This conference – the second in a series devoted to the five senses – aims to contribute to this expansion by bringing together leading researchers to exchange ideas and approaches.
The conference organisers have signed a five-book contract with Brepols which is based on the theme: ‘The Senses in Medieval and Renaissance Europe’. The proceedings of our 2016 conference, ‘Sight and Visual Perception’, held in University College Dublin, edited by Ann Buckley and Edward Coleman, are due for publication in 2020.
We invite proposals from the full range of disciplines including (but not limited to) history, archaeology, musicology, art history, architecture, literary studies, acoustics, astronomy, physics, medicine. Contributions from established and early-career scholars as well as postgraduates are all equally welcome.
Suggested topics include (but are not limited to):
Titles and abstracts (maximum 300 words) together with a short biography, institutional affiliation (where relevant), and contact details should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by 1 December 2019. Proposals for panels are also encouraged.
Registration fee €40 (Students and other concessions: €25)
Click here to download Conference Poster.
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Sense and Nonsense Conference 27-30 August 2019
Conference call for papers: Sense and Nonsense
This biennial conference of the European Association for the History of Medicine and Health marks the 30th anniversary of the Association since its founding conference in Strasbourg in 1989. The title of the conference has been chosen to recognise key themes at the heart of medical history debates and discussions, and will take place in the heart of England, at the University of Birmingham.
Confirmed keynote speakers include Professor Ludmilla Jordanova (University of Durham), Professor Robert Jütte (University of Stuttgart) and Dr Vanessa Heggie (University of Birmingham). Expert sessions on public engagement and social media, among others, will also be run by Dr Vanessa Heggie and Alice Roberts, television presenter and Professor of Science Engagement (University of Birmingham) specifically for early career scholars on the first day of the conference.
Call for Papers
In the most literal of senses, the Scientific Board welcomes abstracts that will explore the history of sense perception, singularly or collectively and within medicine and health globally over the broadest of chronologies. Centring on touch, taste, smell, sight, sound or the heightened, honed, dulling, disability or loss of senses, or touching on their employment through food, pain, analgesia, polluted streets or pestiferous zones – and the emotional responses elicited – this conference encourages engagement with the emerging field of sensory history and its potential to revisit many familiar topics in fresh ways and provoke new insights. The centrality of the senses to medicine and health cuts across time periods and is apparent throughout the ancient and modern worlds, although the reliability of the senses have not always been accepted without question. At times, for example, ‘seeing is not believing’ through fakery or faith, hallucinations or delusions. And while not all periods have valued sight, neither has every practitioner cared or dared to touch their patients – all senses, like touch, having equally been gendered, if not varied with class, age and race or shaped by medical condition, comfort or neurodiversity.
While the five senses may have been recognised and embraced during the Enlightenment as the route to all knowledge, it was during this ‘age of reason’ that the so-called Western World and its colonies witnessed the rise of the asylum. Care became central for those who appeared to lose their senses or who were thought only capable of nonsense, in part because they were widely recognised as having human sensibilities and sensations and not those of animals. The senses and the action of the surroundings on them became instrumental in decisions about design and treatment, and people considered to be mentally ill or incapacitated became part of a growing body of patients who were isolated from communities. Periodically, due to war, migration and urbanisation, the senses have been overwhelmed by encounters with unfamiliar or rapidly-changing worlds in which amplified sights, smells, noises and even vibrations were held potentially to precipitate episodes of mental ill-health.
Both the history of the senses and of mental health and illness have been involved in paradigm shifts in the discipline of history, and this forms another strand to our theme ‘Sense and Nonsense’. Often new paradigms, both in historical fields and medicine, provoke aggressive responses and opposition, especially from those with the greatest investment in orthodox practices. Equally, in crowded medical marketplaces, alternative healers were very quickly identified by their rivals as ‘quacks’ and, just as the hierarchy of the senses was periodically challenged, so too were hierarchies of healers. Contested knowledge has led some figures to exaggerate claims and bred scepticism among experts and various publics, no more so than in our own destabilised ‘post-truth’ world of trickery and ‘alternative facts’. While this has bred much confusion historically, it has also led a return to rationality, objectivity and common sense. As often, it has encouraged trust in the illusory, the paranormal or the sixth sense. Ultimately, ‘Sense and Nonsense’ have always played a part in the way people and populations have tried to make sense of health and illness.
We particularly welcome proposals for panels touching on these and other topics, including, but not limited to:
- Epistemologies of the senses through time
- Animal, human, inter-species and transhuman senses
- Reading non-verbal signals and uncovering the rationale behind premodern medicines
- Extra/sensory perception and its metaphors across cultures and clinics
- Visual cultures and those of taste, sound, scent and touch
- Looking/seeing, listening/hearing, touching, smelling and tasting in medical education, examination and diagnosis
- Energy, chakras, meditation, mindfulness and the senses and their management
- Pain, torture, itching, scratching, numbing and sedating as experience, crime, punishment or therapy
- Hyper-sensitivity, diversity, ability or disability through the senses, including burns, light sensitivity, synaesthesia, acute hearing or sight loss
- Insensibility, drugs and psychoactive substances
- Enabling technologies and technologies of touch, tactile imagery and haptic healing
- Material culture and experiences of space through the senses, health, illness or as patients
- Feeling and feelings
- Mental capacity, signs of reason, neurological signs and auras
- Fever, chills, hallucination, delusion and trauma
- Nonsense, speaking in tongues, gibberish and jargon
- Paradigm shifts in medicine and medical history
- Ethics, experimentation and the return to common sense
- Experiments, therapies or designs using the senses or sensory deprivation
- Making sense of medicine and translating ideas into practice
- Geographies of the senses; virtual worlds and technology
Individual submissions will be received until 30 Jan. 2019 and should comprise a 250-word abstract, including five key words, and a one-page CV with contact information. Panel submissions should ideally include three papers (each with 250-word abstract, keywords and short CV), a chair and an initial introductory 100-word justification. If you wish to organise a roundtable, please include the names of participants and short 500-word abstract. We also invite poster presentations and ideas for novel sessions. As this is an anniversary year, the organisers will also be collecting and displaying images and items commemorating the work and activities of the EAHMH since the Association’s founding. Please contact us about anything you are happy to share. All submissions should be sent to: email@example.com
CFP – Chaucer: Sound and Vision,
October 19th and 20th, 2018
Deadline for Submissions: May 1, 2018
Name of Organization: University of South Alabama
Contact Email: ChaucerSoundAndVision@gmail.com
The English Department at the University of South Alabama invites paper proposals for a conference on Chaucer and the senses (vision, hearing, touch, smell, taste), to be held in Mobile, Alabama, October 19th and 20th, 2018. Papers on any aspect of the topic are welcome, along with papers on writers contemporary with Chaucer (Langland, Gower, the Pearl-poet, Julian of Norwich, etc.).
The plenary speaker will be Michael P. Kuczynski of Tulane University. The conference will also include a roundtable discussion on the state of Sound Studies. Outstanding papers will also be invited to submit expanded versions for an edited volume on the topic.
Please send proposals of 350 words to John Halbrooks and Becky McLaughlin at ChaucerSoundAndVision@gmail.com by May 1, 2018.
Theme: Law and (Dis)OrderThe Forty-Fourth Annual Sewanee Medieval Colloquium April 13-14, 2018 – The University of the South, Sewanee, TN.
The Sewanee Medieval Colloquium invites papers exploring aspects of law, order, disorder and resistance in all aspects of medieval cultures. This includes legal codes, social order, orthodoxy and heterodoxy, poetic or artistic form, gender construction, racial divisions, scientific and philosophical order, the history of popular rebellion, and other ways of conceptualizing our theme.
Papers should be twenty minutes in length, and commentary is traditionally provided for each paper presented. We invite papers from all disciplines, and encourage contributions from medievalists working on any geographic area. A seminar will also seek contributions; please look for its separate CFP soon. Participants in the Colloquium are generally limited to holders of a Ph.D. and those currently in a Ph.D. program.
Please submit an abstract (approx. 250 words) and brief c.v., via our website (http://medievalcolloquium.sewanee.edu), no later than 26 October 2017. If you wish to propose a session, please submit abstracts and vitae for all participants in the session. Completed papers, including notes, will be due no later than 13 March 2018.
Prospective participants are invited to apply to propose complete panels of two or three papers, apply to the general call, or apply to panel sub-themes, which appear below. Papers not taken by sub-themes will be considered for the general call.
Sensory Orders: Detecting Difference in the Middle Ages
Appeals to smell, taste, see, hear, and touch go a long way to define medieval senses of self and other. In the Middle English Siege of Jerusalem (ca. 1370-1380), for instance, the stench of Jewish corpses “choke” ditches to the horror of Jewish survivors and to the delight of Christian spectators. The sound of the blacksmith’s hammer striking an anvil, as imagined in “Complaint Against The Blacksmiths” (ca. 1275-1300), somehow transmits the color of his blackened skin and the nuisance of his socioeconomic status across great distances. What do we do with works, such as the Siege of Jerusalem and the “Complaint Against The Blacksmiths,” that negatively consume its sensing figures and, by extension, its readers? What is gained in and through these literary assaults on the senses? What are the ends of medieval sensation? How are medieval and modern readers taught to perceive differences of race, religion, gender, sexuality, and/or ability?
Sensory studies often make positive use of the senses, in so far as the senses enable modern audiences to have deeper and more significant encounters with past cultures, histories, and literatures. For all the positive sensations we recognize, medieval senses were just as often engaged in and by art and literature to inculcate difference, justify brutality, and/or cultivate sympathy. “Detecting Difference” invites participants to examine the various formations and capacities of the medieval sensorium to encode and enforce social (dis)orders, paying special attention to techniques for detecting differences of race, religion, gender, sexuality, and/or ability. The panel will build on recent work in the sensory, disability, and race studies—from Mark Smith’s How Race Was Made: Slavery, Segregation, and the Senses (2006) to the special issue of postmedieval, edited by Lara Farina and Holly Dugan on “The Intimate Senses” (2012)—to explore how medieval perceptions of difference speak to present-day conversations about difference, about cultures of surveillance, about the policing of bodies, behaviors, and ideas.
Comment: Lara Farina, West Virginia University