The history of the senses is a rapidly expanding field of research. Pioneered in Early Modern and Modern studies, it is now attracting attention also from Medieval and Renaissance specialists. Preoccupation with the human senses and with divine control over them is evident in a range of narrative texts, scientific treatises, creative literature, as well as the visual arts and music from the pre-modern period. This conference – the first in a series devoted to the five senses – aims to contribute to this expansion by bringing together leading researchers to exchange ideas and approaches.
The theme of the inaugural meeting is ‘Sight and Visual Perception’. Sight has been chosen as the first topic for investigation as it was considered the primary sense and was treated as an abstract philosophical and religious concept in many medieval texts. But the study of sight can also provide insights into various aspects of medieval society: ‘eye-witness’ descriptions; sight impairment and the care of the blind; deprivation of sight as punishment or revenge; the development of spectacles and other optical aids; ideas about colours and their significance; ‘second sight’ as manifested in visions and apparitions; the concept of ‘the gaze’ in visual arts. The conference aims to address these and other themes and to foster interaction between established and younger scholars working in the area.
Professor Elizabeth Robertson, University of Glasgow
Professor Chris Woolgar, University of Southampton
Professor Robertson’s research and publications are concerned with vernacular theology, medieval poetics, literacy in the Middle Ages, and gender and religion in Middle English literature. Her recent work has focused on vision and touch in devotional literature. With J. Jahner she edited Medieval and Early Modern Devotional Objects in Global Perspective: Translations of the Sacred for theNew Middle Ages series (Palgrave MacMillan, 2010). This collection contains her important paper, ‘Julian of Norwich’s Unmediated Vision’.
Professor Woolgar’s research and publications are concerned with the social and economic history of late-medieval England and in particular with the evidence contained in domestic household accounts. He is the author of The Senses in Late Medieval England (Yale, 2007) and co-author of A Cultural History of the Senses in the Middle Ages, 500–1450, ed. Richard Newhauser (Bloomsbury Academic, 2014).
Contributions on any aspect of the conference theme of ‘Sight and Visual Perception’ are welcomed from established and early career scholars as well as postgraduates. Proposals for panels are also warmly encouraged. Titles and abstracts (maximum 300 words) together with a short biography, institutional affiliation and contact details, should be forwarded to email@example.com 8 November 2015.
The conference is organised by Edward Coleman, School of History, UCD and the Forum for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Ireland. It is generously supported by UCD Seed Funding.
Dr Edward Coleman (University College Dublin)
Dr Ann Buckley (Queen’s University Belfast / Trinity College Dublin)
Dr Carrie Griffin (University of Bristol)
Dr Emer Purcell (University College Cork)
Forum for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Ireland (FMRSI)
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