Call for papers for Borderlines XXII: Sickness, Strife, and Suffering. This conference will be held from 13-15th April 2018 at Queen’s University Belfast.
Proposals for both papers and panels are welcomed from postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers in the fields of both Medieval and Early Modern studies.
Sickness, strife and suffering punctuate many medieval and early-modern narratives. When viewed by the modern eye, however, these experiences can be difficult to comprehend and empathise with, without resorting to anachronisms. Indeed, in her landmark treatise on pain, Elaine Scarry contests that ‘[p]hysical pain does not simply resist language but actively destroys it’ (Scarry, 1985: 4), thus rendering any description or explanation of pain practically impossible, regardless of era.
In the light of Scarry’s work, the specific difficulties posed by the expression and understanding of pain in the Middle Ages have been expounded upon and theorised by numerous scholars. Esther Cohen’s work on the various symbolisms of medieval pain (Cohen, 2010), in addition to Robert Mills’ adumbration of translative pain theories, mapping the medieval experience of pain onto that of the current day and vice versa (Mills, 2005), are just two examples of scholarship exploring this fascinating area of research connecting the human experience of the present with that of the past.