THE TREATMENT OF DISABLED PERSONS IN MEDIEVAL EUROPE: Examining Disability in the Historical, Legal, Literary, Medical, and Religious Discourses of the Middle Ages

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In essays that cover both familiar and lesser-known texts from the Anglo-Saxon period to the late Middle Ages, contributors demonstrate the wide-ranging and pervasive presence of disability in the Middle Ages and, consequently, the importance of a disablity perspective to a more complete understanding of medieval notions of self and body in domestic, legal, medical, and social terms. In making use of contemporary disability theories, yet recognizing medieval-specific notions of disability, this collection provides important pathways toward medieval models through which to view disability in the Middle Ages more accurately.


"... this study of disability articulates in exciting ways new trajectories for present and future exploration, pushing back the older firmer boundaries by giving us a broader sense of what is possible in Medieval studies as a whole, at the same time, showing us the value of highly focused studies that shed startling new light on particular times, places, studies that will serve as models for future scholarship." -Prof. Kevin Corrigan, Emory University

"This book is a welcome addition to the growing field of disability studies. It aims to define 'disability' in the Middle Ages as it was viewed not only by society but also by the individual him or herself--and often these two perspectives are at odds. The authors' interdisciplinary approach allow them to combine such topics as literature and deafness, the angry wives of madmen as well as the madmen themselves. or the problematic description of impairment at a time when vocabulary was severely limited." -Mary Flowers Braswell, University of Alabama, Birmingham

Table of Contents

Foreword by Kevin Corrigan

Preface: Abilities and Disabilities by Wendy J. Turner


Introduction by Tory Vandeventer Pearman

1. What's in a name? Considering the Onomastics of Disability in the Middle Ages by Irina Metzler

2. Angry Wives of Madmen: The Economic Constraints of Families under Royal Guardianship in England by Wendy J. Turner

3. Byzantine Households and the Sacred Disease: Caring for Epileptics by Margaret Trenchard-Smith

4. "Sumir kallaðr þat meinsemd": Going Berserk in the Shadow of State Centralization in Old Norse Society by Jessica L.Mou

5. Representing the Middle Ages: The Insanity Defense in Medieval England by Sara M. Butler

6. Hagiographical Interpretations of Disability in the Twelfth-Century Miracula of St. Frideswide of Oxford by Louise Elizabeth Wilson

7. Cancer, Leprosy, and Blood: Conflicting Pieties in the Old English Avenging of the Savior by Christina M. Heckman

8. Disease or Disability: The Conceptual Relationship in Medieval and Early Modern England by John M. Theilmann

9. Morality and Monstrous Disability in Topographica Hibernica by Derek Newman-Stille

10. The Werewolf's Closet: Clothing as Prothesis in Marie de France's Bisclavret by Gillian Nelson Bauer

11. Disruptive Dames: Disability and the Loathly Lady in the Tale of Florent, the Wife of Bath's Tale, and the Weddynge of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle by Tory Vandeventer Pearman

12. Alisoun's Aging, Hearing-Impaired Female Body: Gazing at the Wife of Bath in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales by Mikee Delony

Afterword by Edward Wheatley

Appendix: Names by Irina Metzler



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