Gender(ed) Histories of Health, Healing and the Body, 1250-1550
International Workshop, University of Cologne, 25th-26th January 2018
Organisers: Dr Ursula Gießmann (University of Cologne), Eva-Maria Cersovsky (University of Cologne), a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne, in cooperation with the Centre for Medieval Studies Cologne (ZEMAK)
Deadline: 31st May 2017. Proposals should be sent to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Gender played a constitutive role in interpreting and ordering the medieval world, organising social and power relations as well as shaping how medieval people thought about and experienced their surroundings. Medievalists interested in disease, health and medicine have incorporated gender into their historical analyses for some decades. Research on women’s healthcare has been especially innovative, not only reassessing the extent of male involvement in women’s health, but at the same time reappraising women’s health literacy, healing and caring practices, thereby redefining what constituted medieval medical work on the whole. With interpretative frameworks proposing a more body-centred view of medieval health and healing, scholars have also challenged Lacqueur’s notion of a “one-sex body” and focused more closely on the gendering of bodies in medical and gynaecological texts or the dead female body in anatomical dissection.
Approaches of cultural studies and increased efforts to combine a wider range of sources such as medical treatise and archival documents of practice, hagiography, charms or recipes, have opened up new perspectives and helped to examine well-known cases in new ways. Studies on infertility, explorations of gender-specific experiences of pain or the focus on palliative care and healing performed by (holy) religious women, represent some of the burgeoning areas of current research. Yet there still are numerous areas of the field which would benefit from additional and more comprehensive attention, for example: How were distinct forms of healing and caring considered to be masculine or feminine in different texts and contexts and by different groups of people? What effects did gendered perceptions of healing have on male medical practitioners and how did they construct maleness themselves? How can theoretical approaches defining gender as an intersectional or relational category be fruitfully incorporated into the history of health and healing?
Additionally, there has been little comprehensive research thus far on continuities and differences across distinct cultures and religions. However, some regions of Europe, such as medieval Germany, are still comparatively under-researched in many respects, too.
Animated by these recent lines of inquiry and potentials for further research, we invite paper proposals that explore the manifold relations between gender, health and healing in the late Middle Ages. The workshop seeks to bring together historians at all career stages currently working on any aspect of the field, providing a forum for international discussion. It aims at reflecting upon methodological and theoretical frameworks and at situating gender, health and healing at the nexus of medical, social, cultural, religious, economic as well as legal concerns.
We particularly welcome papers that view gender within a matrix of other factors, examining the flexible and complex interrelations of different labels, identities and experiences. Papers attentive to unfamiliar readings of familiar sources, presenting new case-studies and to late medieval Germany are also especially welcome. We encourage speakers to introduce work in progress and focus on still-unresolved problems.
Possible topics include, but are by no means limited to:
- Gender, agents and practices of health and healing
- Gender and knowledge of health, healing and the body
- Gendered forms and representations of medicine, healing and caregiving
- Gender and experiencing the e.g. sick, disabled, disfigured, infertile or pregnant body
- Gender and healthy living, e.g. urban public health, diet and food
- Gender and material culture of health and healing, e.g. objects, art, architecture
- Gender, health, healing and religion
- Gender and changing medical ideas and landscapes, e.g. at times of epidemics, famines or religious change
Please submit English-language proposals of approximately 500 words for a 25-minute paper to Dr Ursula Gießmann (email@example.com) and Eva-Maria Cersovsky (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 31st May 2017. The abstract should include the paper title as well as your name, contact information and academic affiliation.
We hope to be able to provide funding for all travel and accommodation expenses.