Disability in the Middle Ages : Reconsiderations and Reverberations book cover
1st Edition

Disability in the Middle Ages
Reconsiderations and Reverberations

Edited By

Joshua R. Eyler

ISBN 9780367602734
Published June 30, 2020 by Routledge
248 Pages

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Book Description

What do we mean when we talk about disability in the Middle Ages? This volume brings together dynamic scholars working on the subject in medieval literature and history, who use the latest approaches from the field to address this central question. Contributors discuss such standard medieval texts as the Arthurian Legend, The Canterbury Tales and Old Norse Sagas, providing an accessible entry point to the field of medieval disability studies to medievalists. The essays explore a wide variety of disabilities, including the more traditionally accepted classifications of blindness and deafness, as well as perceived disabilities such as madness, pregnancy and age. Adopting a ground-breaking new approach to the study of disability in the medieval period, this provocative book will interest medievalists and scholars of disability throughout history.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: breaking boundaries, building bridges, Joshua R. Eyler; Part 1 Reconsiderations: Disability and the suppression of historical identity: rediscovering the professional backgrounds of the blind residents of the Hôpital des Quinze-Vingts, Mark P. O'Tool; 'O sweete venym queynte!': pregnancy and the disabled female body in the Merchant's Tale, Tory Vandeventer Pearman; Playing by ear: compensation, reclamation, and prosthesis in 14th-century song, Julie Singer; Representations of disability in the 13th-century Miracles de Saint Louis, Hannah Skoda; The exemplary blindness of Francis of Assisi, Scott Wells; Experience, authority, and the mediation of deafness: Chaucer's Wife of Bath, Edna Edith Sayers; Protecting or restraining? Madness as a disability in late medieval France, Aleksandra Pfau; Representations of disability:the medieval literary tradition of the Fisher King, Kisha G. Tracy; 'Ther is moore mysshapen amonges thise beggeres': discourses of disability in Piers Plowman, Jennifer M. Gianfalla; Kingly impairments in Anglo-Saxon literature: God's curse and God's blessing, Beth Tovey; Difference and disability: on the logic of naming in the Icelandic sagas, John P. Sexton. Part 2 Reverberations: Henryson's textual and narrative prosthesis onto Chaucer's corpus: Cresseid's leprosy and her schort conclusioun, Andrew Higl; A medieval king 'disabled' by an early modern construct: a contextual examination of Richard III, Abigail Elizabeth Comber; Aging women and disability in early modern Spanish literature, Encarnación Juárez-Almendros; Bibliography; Index.

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Joshua R. Eyler is an Assistant Professor of English at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia, USA.


'... this volume offers a fresh perspective on the rapidly emerging topic of disability in the Middle Ages. The different approaches employed by literary and historical scholars emerge as one of the stronger points of this collection, in that the tendency of literary criticism to treat disability as a narrative prosthesis is counterbalanced by rigorous historical analysis of sources that uncover the physical bodies of mediaeval persons, making for an interesting, challenging and thought-provoking amalgam of discourse analysis and philological reconstruction.' Medical History 'Eyler has edited an interesting selection of papers that contribute to the growing field of medieval disability. But most importantly these do not simply add the disabled to past histories, they explore various ontologies of disability that existed at the time. ' Medieval Archaeology '... a fresh new addition to studies of medieval disability...' Social History of Medicine '... this book is a commendable collaborative effort with some justifiable conviction that disability, in all its multifaceted forms, was not always viewed as a negative in the Middle Ages.' Sixteenth Century Journal 'Overall, this is an excellent introduction to the topic of medieval disabilities. This work is accessible to educated undergraduate readers, but has scholarly notes, a useful index, and bibliography that academics will find informative. Many of the articles include primary sources in both original languages and translations, making the work important to the researcher and valuable in the classroom.' Bulletin of the History of Medicine