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Medieval Bodies Module Reading List for 2016/7 (extracted from module handbook)

Medieval Bodies, 2021/22, Semester 1
Alaric Hall
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue

Week 1 (CB, AH, IM): introductions to staff and to module.

Read Caroline Bynum, “Why All the Fuss about the Body? A Medievalist's Perspective”, Critical inquiry. 22/1, 1995, pp. 1-33 for discussion

Student assignment for wk 1: submit 1 image to talk about your interest in this module (email to , , by Mon 28.9. by 10 am). Make sure you identify what it is.

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Week 2 (IM): The medical ‘gaze’ and the medicalized body

This week we will consider medical approaches to the body, especially the sick body, and explore how the body was diagnosed and categorized by physicians and the sick. We will discuss humoural and other ancient/medieval concepts about the body. In particularly, we will look at the influence of Roy Porter and Michel Foucault on the construction of the sick or suffering body and the ‘patient’-practitioner relationship. How did physicians view the sick body and how did the sick understand their body? And when was a body sick anyway? In your preparation please focus on the three starred items ** and the primary source collection at the end. I would like you to select a primary source and consider how it represents tensions between different ways of studying the body from a medical/sick perspective. All items marked E are available electronically via the library catalogue. 

- Foucault, health and medicine , ed. A. Petersen and R. Bunton (London, 1997)

- F. E. Glaze and B. K. Nance (eds), Between text and patient : the medical enterprise in medieval & early modern Europe (Florence, 2011)

- **I. McCleery, ‘Both “illness and temptation of the Enemy”: melancholy, the medieval patient and the writings of King Duarte of Portugal (r. 1433-38)’, Journal of Medieval Iberian studies. 1:2 (2009), 163-78 E [this is my medievalist approach to the two modernist studies listed below which you will find useful to read as well]

o **R. Porter, “The Patient’s View: Doing Medical History from Below”, Theory and society. 14 (1985), 175-198 E

o **F. Condrau, “The Patient’s View Meets the Clinical Gaze”, Social history of medicine. 20 (2007), 525-40 E

- M. R. McVaugh, ‘Bedside Manners in the Middle Ages’, Bulletin of the history of medicine. 71 (1997), 201-23 E

- C. Pilsworth and D. Banham (eds), “Medieval Medicine; Theory and Practice”, special issue of Social history of medicine. 24 (2011) E

- C. Rawcliffe, Urban bodies : communal health in late medieval English towns and cities (Woodbridge, 2013)

- Reassessing Foucault : power, medicine, and the body , ed. C. Jones and R. Porter (London and New York, 1994)

- N. Siraisi, Medieval and Early Renaissance Medicine (Chicago, 1990)

- M. Solomon, Fictions of well-being : sickly readers and vernacular medical writing in late medieval and early modern Spain (Philadelphia, 2010)

- J. Stearns, Infectious ideas : contagion in premodern Islamic and Christian thought in the Western Mediterranean (Baltimore, 2012)

- F. Wallis (ed.), Medieval medicine : a reader (Toronto, 2010) [ primary sources – we will especially discuss pp. 337-60 and 387-429]

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Week 3 (AH): M anuscripts, bodies, and textuality .

Venue : Brotherton Library Special Collections.

In this session we will think about the materiality of writing and its intersection with bodies. I’m not sure where this will take us to be honest, but it’ll be an opportunity to look at some manuscripts in the flesh. We’ll situate our MSS in a dialogue with secondary literature and some relevant-seeming primary literature on MSS and animal bodies.

Secondary literature:

Bruce Holsinger, ‘Parchment Ethics: A Statement of More than Modest Concern’, New medieval literatures. , 12 (2010), 131–36 (on the VLE) and at least one of

Holsinger, Bruce, ‘Of Pigs and Parchment: Medieval Studies and the Coming of the Animal’, PMLA. , 124 (2009), 616–23, doi:10.1632/pmla.2009.124.2.616

Kay, Sarah, ‘Original Skin: Flaying, Reading, and Thinking in the Legend of Saint Bartholomew and Other Works’, The journal of medieval and early modern studies. , 36 (2006), 35–74, doi:10.1215/10829636-36-1-35

Price, Helen, ‘Human and NonHuman in Anglo-Saxon and British Postwar Poetry: Reshaping Literary Ecology’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Leeds, 2014), ch. 2,

Primary sources (excerpts on VL, Learning resouces, prep for week 3):

Symphosius, c. C4, ‘Harundo’ (‘reed’); Aldhelm, c. C7, ‘De pugullarbius’ (‘on wax tablets’) ; Aldhelm, 'De penna scriptoris' ('On the writer's quill') ; Tatwine (C8), Enigma 5 'De membrano' ('on parchment'); Exeter Book Riddle 26 ('gospel book'); Exeter Book Riddle 51 (‘pen and three fingers’); Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (C14), lines 1319 -

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Week 4 (AH): Supernatural beings. monsters and monstrous bodies

Primary reading: Beowulf , lines 1–2143.

Secondary reading: Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, ‘Monster Culture: Seven Theses’, in Monster theory : reading culture , ed. by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, pp. 3 – 25, available at,%20Monster%20Culture%20(Seven%20Theses),%203-20.pdf .

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Week 5 (CB & IM): The wounded body, medical and spiritual

This session will consider maimed, diseased and injured bodies in medical and surgical texts with an emphasis on battlefield injuries, congenital impairments and skin sores. We will explore the relationship between bodily experience of wounds and spiritual/moral/literary/historiographical/archaeological approaches to wounding and disease. Please read one of the primary sources below and come along with a viewpoint on a) retrospective diagnosis, and b) the role of wounds, sores and scars in medieval cultures.

- M. Bloch, The Royal Touch: Sacred Monarchy and Scrofula in England and France (London, 1973)

- Blood red roses : the archaeology of a mass grave from the Battle of Towton AD 1461 , ed. V. Fiorato, A. Boylston and C. Knüsel (Oxford, 2000)

- E. Brenner, “Recent Perspectives on Leprosy in Medieval Western Europe”, History compass. 8:5 (2010), 385-406 E

- R. Buckley, M. Morris, J. Appleby, T. King, D. O’Sullivan and L. Foxhall, ‘The King in the Car Park: New Light on the Death and Burial of Richard III in the Grey Friars Church, Leicester, in 1485’, Antiquity. 87 (2013), 519-38 E

- J. J. Citrome, The surgeon in medieval English literature (Basingstoke, 2007)

- L. Demaitre, “Medieval Notions of Cancer: Malignancy and Metaphor”, Bulletin of the history of medicine. 72 (1998), 609-37 E

- R. Gilchrist, Medieval life : archaeology and the life course (Woodbridge, 2012)

- J. Kroll and B. Bachrach, “Sin and the Etiology of Disease in Pre-Crusade Europe”, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences. 41 (1986), 395-414 E

- P. McCracken, The curse of Eve, the wound of the hero : blood, gender, and medieval literature (Philadelphia, 2003)

- I. Metzler, “Disability in the Middle Ages: Impairment at the Intersection of Historical Inquiry and Disability Studies”, History compass. 9:1 (2011), 45-60 E

- P. Mitchell, “Retrospective Diagnosis and the Use of Historical Texts for Investigating Disease in the Past', International Journal of Paleopathology 1 (2011), 81-88 E

- C. Roberts and M. Cox, Health & disease in Britain : from prehistory to the present day (Stroud, 2003)

- Wounds in the Middle Ages , ed. A. Kirkham and C. Warr (Farnham, 2014)

Primary sources:

- The cyrurgie of Guy de Chauliac , ed. M. Ogden, Early English Text Society 265 (London and New York, 1971)

- Treatises of fistula in ano, hæmorrhoids, and clysters by John of Arderne from an Early Fifteenth-Century Manuscript Translation , ed. D. Power, Early English Text Society 139 (Oxford, 1910)

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Week 6 (IM): The Gendered Body

In this session we will look at sexual difference and the male and the female body in relation to illness, sexuality and everyday life. In particular, we will explore the major debate about whether there were two sexes or one in medieval culture, and what this may have meant for male/female authority over the body. I would like you to come to class with one image (either textual or visual) of a female body and one of a male body that you are able to analyse for the rest of the group.

- D. Green, “Masculinity and Medicine: Thomas Walsingham and the Death of the Black Prince”, Journal of Medieval history. 35 (2009), 34-51

- M. Green, “Gendering the History of Women’s Healthcare”, Gender & history. 20 (2008), 487-518 E

- M. Green, Making Women’s Medicine Masculine: the Rise of Male Authority in Pre-Modern Gynaecology (Oxford and New York, 2008)

- M. Green, “Bodies, Gender, Health, Disease: Recent Work on Medieval Women’s Medicine”, Studies in medieval and Renaissance history. 3rd series 2 (2005), 1-46 E

- H. King, The one-sex body on trial : the classical and early modern evidence (Farnham, 2013)

- T. Laqueur, Making sex : body and gender from the Greeks to Freud (Cambridge MA and London, 1990)

- I. McCleery, “Medicine and Disease: the Female 'Patient' in Medieval Europe”, in K. M. Phillips (ed), A cultural history of women in the Middle Ages (London and New York, 2013), 85-104 Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva

- J. Murray (ed.), Conflicted identities and multiple masculinities : men in the medieval West (New York and London, 1999)

- J. Musacchio, The art and ritual of childbirth in Renaissance Italy (Yale, 1999)

- J. Salisbury, “Gendered Sexuality”, in V. Bullough (ed.), Handbook of medieval sexuality (New York, 1995), 81-102

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Week 7: (CB): The Fabliau Body : a selection of fabliaux in translation, with discussion of principles of fabliau structure, and Freudian analysis of comedy

Primary Texts

The fabliaux : a new verse translation , ed. and trans. by Nathaniel E. Dubin, intro. by R. Howard Bloch (New York: Liveright / Norton, 2013): please collect copies of a few extracts from this collection from outside my door.

See also the selection available in English at the Harvard Chaucer website:

The Miller’s Tale , and The Reeve’s Tale , from either The Riverside Chaucer , gen. ed. Larry D. Benson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987) or any later editions

Or Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales , ed. by Jill Mann (London: Penguin, 2005)

Or the Harvard website, as above (this last has an interlinear translation)

An analogue to The Miller’s Tale (see the Week 6 area of the VLE module site)

Recommended Secondary Reading :

R. Howard Bloch, The scandal of the fabliaux (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986)

Sigmund Freud, ‘The Purposes of Jokes’, in Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious , trans. and ed. by James Strachey, Pelican Freud Library, Vol. 6 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976), pp. 132-62

John Hines, The Fabliau in English (London: Longman, 1993)

Lesley Johnson, ‘Woman on Top’, The modern language review. , 78.2 (1983), 298-307

Brian Levy, The comic text : patterns and images in the Old French fabliaux (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000)

Sarah Melhado White, ‘Sexual Language and Human Conflict in Old French Fabliaux’, Comparative studies in society and history. , 24.2 (1982), 185-210

In your reading, keep in mind the following issues / questions:

· In what ways is the human body deployed in these comic tales?

· What difference does gender make?

· What does a Freudian / Lacanian view bring to your understanding of medieval comedy?

· What is the relation of Body to Language, and of Body to Fabliau Structure?

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Week 8: (CB): Romance bodies :

Romance : Sir Orfeo , The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale , The Squire of Low Degree .

Things to consider in your preparation:

What to you is the structure of romance, from these three examples?

What function does the body have? How would you argue for a definition of a Romance Body?

What difference does gender make to the treatment of the body?

What are the main preoccupations of romance?

What differences are there in romances across time?

What continuities do you detect in this genre?

What does romance have to say about law?

How does the supernatural / otherworldly feature in romance?

Primary Texts:

Early 14th –c: Sir Orfeo (copy from Broadview edition supplied)

Later 14th-c: The Wife of Bath's prologue and tale from The Canterbury Tales (see week 6 for editions).

15th-c: The Squire of Low Degre in: Sentimental and humorous romances : Floris and Blancheflour, Sir Degrevant, The squire of low degree, The tournament of Tottenham, and The feast of Tottenham , ed. by Erik Kooper (Kalamazoo, TEAMS: 2005),

Secondary Texts:

Aim to read one piece of criticism for each text: below are a few recommendations for secondary material, but look up the International Medieval Bibliography online, too, for the most recent writing. There are also several recent guides to romance (e.g. Nicola McDonald on popular romance, volumes ed. by Ad Putter and Jane Taylor, and by Roberta Krueger). See also, for a modern take on (modern manifestations of) the genre:

Diane Elam, Romancing the postmodern (New York: Routledge, 1992)

Sir Orfeo :

Catherine Batt, ‘ Sir Orfeo and Middle English Romance as Creative Re-Reading’, Kunapipi. , 25.1 (2003), 102-110

John B. Friedman, Orpheus in the Middle Ages (Cambridge: CUP, 1970)

Seth Lerer, ‘Artifice and Artistry in Sir Orfeo ’, Speculum. , 60 (1985), 92-109

Ovid, Metamorphoses , vol II, ed. by G. P. Goold (London: Heinemann, 1984)

Jeff Rider, ‘Receiving Orpheus in the Middle Ages: Allegorization, Remythification and Sir Orfeo ’, Papers on language & literature. , 24 (1988), 342-66

A.C. Spearing, ‘ Sir Orfeo : Madness and Gender’, in: The spirit of medieval English popular romance , ed. by Ad Putter and Jane Gilbert (Harlow: Longman/Pearson, 2000), pp. 258-72

The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale

Susan Crane, Gender and romance in Chaucer's Canterbury tales (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994)

Carolyn Dinshaw, Chaucer's sexual poetics (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989)

Sarah Disbrow, ‘The Wife of Bath’s Old Wives’ Tale’, Studies in the age of Chaucer. , 8 (1986), 59-71

Suzanne Edwards, ‘The Rhetoric of Rape and the Politics of Gender in the Wife of Bath’s Tale and the 1382 Statute of Rapes’, Exemplaria. , 23.1 (2011), 3-26

The Squire of Low Degree

Carol Fewster, Traditionality and Genre in Middle English Romance (Cambridge: Brewer, 1987)

Harriet Hudson, ‘Constructions of Class, Family, and Gender in Some Middle English Popular Romances’, in Class and gender in early English literature : intersections , ed. by B. J. Harwood and Gillian R. Overing (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), 76-94. Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva

Glenn Wright, ‘“Other wyse then must we do”: Parody and Popular Narrative in The Squyr of Low Degre ’, Comitatus : a journal of medieval and Renaissance literature. , 27 (1996), 14-41

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Week 9 (EF): Regarding and constructing ‘Others’: Gentile tales and Jewish bodies

Robert Bartlett , "Medieval and Modern Concepts of Race and Ethnicity", The journal of medieval and early modern studies. , Volume 31, Number 1, Winter 2001 , pp. 39-56

Anthony Bale, Feeling persecuted : Christians, Jews and images of violence in the Middle Ages , London : Reaktion, 2010 – selected passages.

Kathleen Biddick. “Genders, bodies, borders: Technologies of the visible”, in idem, The shock of medievalism , Durham [NC]; London : Duke University Press, 1998. Pp. 135-163 Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva

Kathleen Biddick. The typological imaginary : circumcision, technology, history , Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003, section from the intro.

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Week 10 (EF): Regarding and constructing ‘Others’: Muslims, Saracens and the question of race

Suzanne Conklin Akbari, Idols in the east : European representations of Islam and the Orient, 1100-1450 , Cornell University Press, 2009; paperback edition 2012, esp. ch. 3 The Place of the Jews/ Climate and the Diasporic Body, and ch. 4 The Saracen Body 

Debra Higgs Strickland, Saracens, demons, and Jews : making monsters in medieval art , Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 2003.

This list was last updated on 18/10/2016