Borderlines XXII: Sickness, Strife, and Suffering

Lauren Browne's picture
Type: 
Call for Papers
Date: 
February 5, 2018
Location: 
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Early Modern History and Period Studies, European History / Studies, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Literature, Medieval and Byzantine History / Studies

Borderlines is an annual postgraduate conference in Medieval & Early Modern studies. Held on a rotating basis in Belfast, Dublin and Cork, we aim to bring together Medievalists and Early Modernists (at MA, PhD & postdoctoral level) in all disciplines from across Ireland, Britain and around the world. This year, the conference will be held at Queens University Belfast. 

Borderlines XXII: QUB, April 13-15th 2017, ‘Sickness, Strife, and Suffering’.

 

Sickness, strife and suffering punctuate many medieval and early-modern narratives. When viewed by the modern eye, however, these experiences can be difficult to comprehend and empathise with, without resorting to anachronisms. Indeed, in her landmark treatise on pain, Elaine Scarry contests that ‘[p]hysical pain does not simply resist language but actively destroys it’ (Scarry, 1985: 4), thus rendering any description or explanation of pain practically impossible, regardless of era.

In the light of Scarry’s work, the specific difficulties posed by the expression and understanding of pain in the Middle Ages have been expounded upon and theorised by numerous scholars. Esther Cohen’s work on the various symbolisms of medieval pain (Cohen, 2010), in addition to Robert Mills’ adumbration of translative pain theories, mapping the medieval experience of pain onto that of the current day and vice versa (Mills, 2005), are just two examples of scholarship exploring this fascinating area of research connecting the human experience of the present with that of the past.

It is in this light that we are pleased to invite abstracts of ca. 250 words related to pain in the Middle Ages. Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Collective pain
  • Depictions of pain
  • Explanations of pain
  • Judicial literature
  • Medical literature
  • Memory and pain
  • Narratives of suffering
  • Pain and creativity
  • Pain and pleasure
  • Psychological pain
  • Social pain
  • Religious literature
  • Suffering in the afterlife

Please send your abstracts and a brief academic biography to borderlinesxxii@gmail.com by Monday 5th February 2018