IMC 2018: Sessions

Session 1108: Sanctifying the Crip, Cripping the Sacred: Disability, Holiness, and Embodied Knowledge

Wednesday 4 July 2018, 11.15-12.45

Sponsor:Hagiography Society
Organiser:Alicia Spencer-Hall, School of Languages, Linguistics & Film, Queen Mary University of London
Moderator/Chair:Alicia Spencer-Hall, School of Languages, Linguistics & Film, Queen Mary University of London
Paper 1108-aHildegard of Bingen's Hagiography: The Community of Heaven and Earth and the Social Model of Disability
(Language: English)
Stephen Marc D'Evelyn, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol
Index terms: Gender Studies, Hagiography, Religious Life, Theology
Paper 1108-bTranslations of (Dis)Ability, Disease, and Digestion in The Book of Margery Kempe
(Language: English)
Katherine Gubbels, Department of English, Memphis College of Art, Tennessee
Index terms: Gender Studies, Hagiography, Medicine, Theology
Paper 1108-cDisability and Power in the Early Lives of St Francis of Assisi
(Language: English)
Donna Trembinski, Department of History, St. Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia
Index terms: Gender Studies, Hagiography, Religious Life, Theology
Paper 1108-dBodily Arithmetic: Physical and Sacred Identity in Tristan de Nanteuil
(Language: English)
Blake Gutt, Department of French, University of Cambridge
Index terms: Gender Studies, Hagiography, Religious Life, Theology
Abstract

A vast amount of our knowledge of the experience of impairment in the Middle Ages comes from religious works. An important manifestation of a presumptive saint’s holiness was their capacity to perform mystically curative healings to return their devotees to an able-bodied state. But medieval saints did not just tend to those with impairment. Some saints were themselves explicitly physically impaired, either permanently or temporarily. Saints’ ascetic self-mortification could also lead to impairment. In all instances, the saint’s body is divergent to the able-bodied norm of those around them, the non-saintly. It operates as a vector of the divine in miraculous healing of others; a receptacle of the divine in their ability to withstand extreme ascetic degradation. What is at stake if we consider the medieval saint’s body as impaired, disabled, emphatically non-able-bodied?

Ultimately, this panel seeks to interrogate the ways in which the body – be that the saintly body, the disabled body, and/or the saintly and disabled body – acts as a site of embodied knowledge. More specifically, it aims to consider the body as a site of somatic memorialization: the corporeal matter of memory formation, memory retention, and temporal disturbance. How do impairments – writ on holy and profane bodies alike – bear witness to events, subject positions, even evanescent truths? And what does this form of productive bodily witnessing bring to bear on the concept of disability itself? This panel is comprised of four 15-minute papers.