This session at the 2019 International Congress on Medieval Studies examines the many valences of wounds in late medieval Christianity, focusing on themes surrounding wounds and wounding both visible (corporeal and/or material) and invisible (rhetorical and allegorical). The image of the wounded body held a central place in late medieval Christian practice and material culture; the wounds of the crucified Christ were tangible reminders of his Passion and served as foci of veneration, while stigmatic saints and maimed martyrs were marked as holy by means of bodily trauma. Papers may also consider the Christian response to physical injury, in the form of saintly intervention through healing miracles and medical intervention through the establishment of hospitals and provision of care by religious orders.
Moving beyond the ample possibilities for discussion stemming from the theme of “visible” wounds in medieval Christianity, this session also encourages a broad examination of “invisible” wounds within the late medieval Christian context. Examples might range from the accusations of metaphorical violence levied against the mendicant orders by antifraternal critics, to the conceptualization of the Western Schism as a wound to the Church. By exploring wounds both “visible” and “invisible,” this session elicits the perspectives of scholars of history, art history, literature, and theology and seeks to expand conceptions of wounds and injury within a late medieval Christian framework.
Please send a brief proposal (300 words max) and a participant information form (currently available at https://wmich.edu/medievalcongress/submissions) to Hannah Wood at Hannah.firstname.lastname@example.org and Johanna Pollick at email@example.com by 15th September 2018.
As per ICMS rules, any abstracts not accepted for our session will be forwarded for consideration for General Sessions.
See the organisator’s wesbsite for more infos !
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.