Disease, Disability & Medicine in Early Medieval Europe Workshop - The University of Nottingham, School of English Conference
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Generation and Reproduction in Medieval Europe# A one-day workshop at King’s College, Cambridge, 8 December 2012 (organisers: Debby Banham, Peter Jones)

For programme and registration details please go to http://www.hps.cam.ac.uk/medicine/medievaleurope.html

Conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and the raising of healthy children (or animals) were high-risk endeavours in the Middle Ages, the focus of many hopes and anxieties. These emotions found expression in prayers and charms, in private letters, in hagiography and miracle accounts, in records of ecclesiastical and secular courts, as well as in advice literature and medical writings. Themes to do with generation and reproduction were also at the centre of imaginative writings, notably romance and fable, and of medieval art. The range of evidence available for historical investigation is thus very wide, though the private experiences of those involved are as always hard to plumb. This meeting will explore the beliefs and practices that surrounded generation and reproduction and the frames of understanding that underlay these. One focus of interest is the tension between normative discourse, texts that tell people how they should believe and act, and other discourses that are resistant to or circumvent the injunctions of law, dogma and discipline. Another is the extent to which the development of scholastic methods of analysis in the medieval universities, as applied to philosophical issues in generation and reproduction, produced new interpretations of gender roles in conception, of ensoulment in the developing child, and of the responsibilities of church and state in promoting robust children and population numbers. A third area of interest is the extent to which generation and reproduction came to be thought of as health issues at all in the Middle Ages. How far did concepts of disease and disability seem to apply to mothers, fathers and children?

NB: on 7 December 2012 there will be a public lecture by Dr Marianne Elsakkers at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Free School Lane, Cambridge, at 5.30pm. Her title is: ‘What the small print in the early medieval penitentials tells us about abortion’. No registration required for this lecture.


The ‘Disease, Disability and Medicine’ workshops have been a leading UK interdisciplinary forum for scholars working in a variety of disciplines and regions of Medieval Europe . For this year’s workshop we are inviting both scholars in Medieval Studies and Antiquity.

Future workshops: 2013 Augusta State University, organiser: Professor Wendy Turner


The Economy of Disease & Disbility from Antiquity to the Middle Ages University of Nottingam, December 2011

Disability & the Law

University of Nottingham December 12-13th, 2010