University of Warwick, 20th May 2017

What is it to have a body? And to experience change and transformation through that body?

A focus on the material body in critical theory and philosophy has, in recent decades, produced varied and stimulating challenges to the ways that we think about and engage with bodies, particularly in the fields of gender and sexuality, queer theory, posthumanism, disability studies, and the ‘material turn’. Discussion of how bodies interact with, are situated in, or are delineated from social, political, and cultural phenomena illuminates our understanding of the experience of embodiment, and the representation of this experience. Similar debates, discussions, and anxieties were expressed in the Middle Ages.

This interdisciplinary conference asks what the transformation of the body means for the conception of bodies of different kinds: human, nonhuman, animal, material, divine, and how the representation of these changes in different media reflects on and inflects the boundaries conventionally associated with the body. The conference is open to scholars working in any area of medieval studies, including literature, art history, history of medicine, and history of religion; we would welcome proposals that engage with critical theory or challenge disciplinary boundaries, as well as those approaching the topic in more historical ways.  The conference will provide a forum for exchange among scholars working on medieval bodily transformation in its many forms.

Topics might include:

• Transformation across species and material boundaries (e.g. medieval lycanthropy, Ovidian metamorphoses)

• Reflections on matter as locus of change (e.g. interpretations of Aristotle)

• Spiritual bodies (e.g. divine transformation, the Eucharist, relics)

• Death, decay, and the aging process

• Vulnerable bodies – wounds, bleeding, illness

• Medical and miraculous bodily transformations

• Metamorphosis in literature and art

• Translating bodies and identities through text and image

• Transforming meaning through allegory and symbolism

For contact details and further information click here.

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