Calls for Papers/Aug 23, 2022

Expressive Bodies: Visible Illness, Visible Health

Expressive Bodies: Visible Illness, Visible Health lead image

Expressive Bodies: Visible Illness, Visible Health, VisibleBodyMed sponsored sessions at the 2023 International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, July 3–6, 2023

Over the last decades cultural historians of medicine have joined religious and social historians to approach the body as a primary site of the most intimate and at the same time communally shared human experiences. In these sessions we aim to explore one particular aspect of this entanglement: the visible quality oh human bodies to express both illness and health.

We invite papers that explore from variety of disciplines the visibility of some "actions of the body," their relevance in medieval cultures and how they were interpreted and acted upon by a variety of agents. From the presence or absences of ulcers, buboes, or facial hair rot the appearance of the skin and the shape of the genitals. Bodily surfaces played a central role in medical and religious understandings of the body and determined important aspects of social life.

Topics to be addressed include but are not limited to:

  • Explanations of the outward manifestations of the humoral body
  • The role of the visible in health practices
  • Professional and lay interventions on bodily surfaces
  • Gender and the visibility of the body and its parts
  • Who decided to act on bodily surfaces and on what grounds these decisions were made
  • Technologies used to modify the appearance of bodies
  • Institutional approaches to the visible nature of human bodies

Session organizers
Montserrat Cabré
Anna Peterson