Colloque – Medicine of Words: Literature, Medicine, and Theology in the Middle Ages

St Anne’s College, Oxford
11-12th September 2015

Words, whether in poetry or prose, have a power beyond their meaning. They are capable not simply of expression but also of action; they can hurt or they can heal. Throughout the Middle Ages the potency of words, their effect and force upon the mind, body, and soul is explored and engaged with, poured over and focused upon not simply by the arts of grammar and rhetoric, but by poetry and theology, by medicine and psychology. Medieval texts are pieces of linguistic craft and intention, their words chosen and arranged with a purpose in mind. Poems in this period can be as crafted as theological treatises, their meters and rhymes as intentional and purpose driven as any medical instrument. Words, whether spoken or heard, emerge from the mind and feed back into it through the senses. They possess a power over the body as well as the soul, and can manipulate the emotions as easily as speaking can manipulate the breath. Potentially medicinal or malign, words in the Middle Ages are seen as tools to be used to persuade, to please, to heal or to harm.

This conference will explore the interconnection between literature, medicine, and theology throughout the Middle Ages. Possible texts for exploration include prayers, charms, narratives of illness and health, medical manuals, texts of contemplation and religious instruction, devotional materials, accounts of conversion and healing, saints lives and prognostications, and texts that evoke and direct the emotions in Old and Middle English.

Medicine of Words 2Programme :

Friday the 11th of September

10:00 – 11:00 – Registration
11:00 – 11:10 – Conference Welcome

11:10 – 12:00 – Plenary One – Styling Cure
Chair: Marion Turner

Mary Carruthers, New York University/Oxford University: Stylistic effects and bodily health in the aesthetics of the Middle Ages
12:00 – 13:00 – Buffet Lunch in St Anne’s College

13:00 – 14:30
Parallel sessions A & B

A – Text and Image: The Wounded Page
Chair: Ralph Hanna

Sara Öberg Strådal, University of Glasgow: The use of religious diagrams in medical manuscripts, a case study of Ashmole MS 789.
Michael Leahy, (Independent): What is a Naked Body Doing in a Surgical Text? The Medical Humanities and the Stockholm Roll
Jack Hartnell, Columbia University, New York: Wound as Word, Wound Man as Word Man.

B – Anglo-Saxon Attitudes to Medicine
Chair: Francis Leneghan

Sarah Gilbert, Durham University: Anglo-Saxon Medical Recipes in Non-medical Manuscripts: Matters of Culture, Context and Community
Emily Kesling, Oxford University: True Medicine and Forbidden Practices in Anglo-Saxon England
Kate Thomas, University of York: Names of healing: poetry and prayer in the Anglo-Saxon Lacnunga
14:30 – Tea and Coffee Break

15:00 – 16:30
Parallel sessions C & D

C – Metaphorical Medicine One
Chair: Kantik Ghosh

Catherine Batt, University of Leeds: Metaphors we Believe By: Spiritual and Medical Resources of the Heart
Teresa Tavormina, Michigan State University: “Ignotum per notiora »: Colour Terms and Similes in Middle English Uroscopies
Greti Dinkova-Bruun, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto: Healing God’s Creation: Mary as Medicine in Two Devotional Poems from the Late Middle Ages

D – Medical Discourses
Chair: Kylie Murray

Naoë Kukita Yoshikawa, Shizuoka University, Japan: Women and the Medicine for the Soul in The Booke of Gostlye Grace
Jennifer M. Rampling, Princeton University: Paradise and the Purgation of Bodies in Medieval Alchemical Poetry
Laura Kalas Williams, University of Exeter: Painful Healing in The Book of Margery Kempe
16:30 – Tea and Coffee Break

17:00 – 18:30 – Plenary Two: Cura Animarium
Chair: Daniel McCann

Denis Renevey, Lausanne University: ‘ »In myn ere heuenly sown »: the Healing Power of the Name of Jesus’

Vincent Gillespie, Oxford University: Seek, Suffer, and Trust: Ease and Disease in Julian of Norwich

Respondent: Catherine Batt

18:45 – 19:15 – Wine Reception
19:30 – Conference Dinner in St Anne’s College

Saturday the 12th of September

09:00 – 10:45 – Parallel sessions E & F

E – Confession and Penance
Chair: Michael Leahy

Imogen Volkofsky University of Sydney: Psalmody, Penance and the Healing of Souls: the Meaning and Purpose of the Book of Cerne’s Abbreviated Psalter.
Francis Leneghan, Oxford University: I Just Can’t Get You Out Of My Head: Hearing Voices in The Wanderer
Winston Black, Assumption College, Massachusetts: Penitential Theology and Scholastic Medicine, (1150-1250)
Nicole Archambeau, Colorado State University: A Need for Consolation: Spiritual Suffering and the Sacrament of Confession

F – Charming Words:
Chair: Teresa Tavormina

Sara Ritchey, University of Louisiana in Lafayette: Hagiographic Healing: Performative Reading and Personal Change in Thirteenth-Century Miscellanies
Matthew Klemm, Ithaca College: The “Power of Things:” The Effect of Words, Thoughts, and Intentions on the Body According to Peter of Abano (d. 1316)
Katherine Hindley, Yale University: ‘Let It Be Made Secretly’: The Medicine of Unread Words
Erica R. Machulak, University of Notre Dame: The Leech and the Philosopher: Theorizing Practical Medicine in þe Priuyté of Priuyteis
10:45 – Tea and Coffee Break
11:00 – 12:30

Parallel sessions G&H

G – Metaphorical Medicine Two
Chair: Catherine Batt

Chris Tuckley (Independent): Making ‘preaching more powerful and more horrible to hear’? The manuscript settings of Malachy of Ireland’s Tractatus de veneno
Helen F. Smith, The University of Edinburgh: Medicine and Metaphor in Late-Medieval Drama

H – Narrating Cure
Chair: Peregrine Horden

Peter Murray Jones, Kings College Cambridge: Surgical narrative in England in the later Middle Ages
Daniel McCann, Oxford University: Soule-Hele: Therapeutic Reading in the Middle Ages
Rebecca Maryan, University of Nottingham: ‘Spiritual Regimen’: Language of the Four Humors in Fourteenth and Fifteenth Century Middle English Spiritual Guidance Texts
12:30 – 13:30 Buffet Lunch in St Anne’s College

13:30 – 15:00 Plenary Three – Healing Words
Chair: Corinne Saunders

John Thompson, Queen’s University Belfast: Medieval English Healing Places of the Soul
Ralph Hanna, Oxford University: Dramaturgy/Thaumaturgy: The York Palm Sunday Pageant

Respondent: Sara Ritchey

15:00 – Tea and Coffee Break

15:30 – 17:00 Plenary Four – Hearing the Voice Project
Chair: Mishtooni Bose

Hilary Powell, Durham University: ‘“Once more with feeling”: Dispelling Demons Through Song

Charles Fernyhough and Corinne Saunders, Durham University: Reading Margery Kempe’s Inner Voices

17:30 – 18:10 Plenary Five – Regimen Animarum
Chair: Emilie Savage-Smith

Peregrine Horden, Royal Holloway: A Healing Afterword: Conclusions and Prospects

18:30: Conference Close.

Source : University of Oxford

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