Early Modern Women, Religion, and the Body
22-23 July 2014, Loughborough University
Plenary speakers: Professor Mary Fissell (Johns Hopkins) and Dr Katharine Hodgkin (University of East London)
With public lecture by Alison Weir (evening of 22 July, Martin Hall Theatre): ‘“The Prince expected in due season”: The Queen’s First Duty’
This two-day conference will explore the response of early modern texts to the relationship between religion and female bodily health. Scholars have long observed that understandings of the flesh and the spirit were inextricably intertwined in the early modern period, and that women’s writings or writings about women often explored this complex relationship. For instance, how did early modern women understand pain, illness, and health in a religious framework, and was this different to the understanding of those around them? Did women believe that their bodies were sinful? And were male and female religious experiences different because they took place in different bodies?
We invite proposals that address the relationship between religion and health, and the spirit and flesh, with a focus on female experience in any genre in print or manuscript. Genres might include medical, literary, religious, autobiographical, instructive, and rhetorical writings.
Topics might include, but are not limited to
Methods of recording or maintaining bodily and spiritual health
The function of religion/faith in physiological changes (e.g. pregnancy/childbirth/nursing/menstruation)
Illness, providence, and interpretation
Suffering as part of religious experience and conversion
Spiritual melancholy, madness, demonic possession, or witchcraft
The physical effects of prophesising/preaching
Chastity and religious life
Spiritual and physical births/reproductive tropes
Ensoulment and pregnancy
The miraculous or martyred female body
The body and sin
Uses of the Bible in medical treatises
We invite proposals for 20-minute papers, complete panels, or roundtable discussions. Suggestions for discussions on pedagogical approaches to teaching the above topics are also welcome.
Please send abstracts of 300 words for 20-minute papers, or longer proposals for panels or roundtables, to Rachel Adcock, Sara Read, and Anna Warzycha here by 31st January 2014.