CfP: Experiences of Disability from the late Middle Ages to the Mid-Twentieth Century

The Call for Papers ‘Experiences of Disability from the late Middle Ages to the Mid-Twentieth Century’ can be of interest to h-madness readers. The conference will take place on 22-23 August 2019 at the University of Tampere, Finland.

Keynote speakers: David Lederer, Maynooth University; Donna
Trembinski, St. Francis Xavier University; David Turner, Swansea

In recent decades, dis/ability history has become an important field
in its own right, standing at the crossroads of the social history of
medicine, the history of minorities and the history of everyday life.
Conceptions of and attitudes to physical and mental wellbeing and to
difference are and have always been key elements in any human society,
while the lived experience of dis/ability has varied across societies
and time periods, but also depending on the person’s socioeconomic
status, age, gender, and the nature of the impairment. Experiences of
disability, whether personal or communal, have long continuities in
the past, but they have also changed dramatically with the development
of medical science and institutionalized care.

This conference aims to concentrate on the experiences of those with
physical or mental impairments and chronic illnesses, with special
reference to the period between the late Middle Ages and the
mid-twentieth century. We understand dis/ability in a broad sense,
covering a wide range of physical, mental and intellectual impairments
and chronic illnesses. How, then, were various dis/abilities lived and
experienced, how did communities shape these experiences, and what
similarities and changes can we detect over the course of time? An
important viewpoint is also that of methodology: how can a modern
scholar approach the experience of those living in the past?

We thus invite papers that explore the ways in which ‘disabilities’
have been lived and experienced, in all stages of life, and by people
of different social status and background. The conference aims to
promote dialogue between disability historians across national and
chronological borders and we welcome papers presenting new research
and work in progress.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
•  How to approach the experience of disability (sources,
methodology)? Different categories of disability experience, or what
counts as experience of disability?
•  How have society, religion and practices of care and cure
defined the experience of disability?
•  Religion and disability
•  Medicalization, institutionalization and everyday life
•  The impact of gender, age and social status on the experience
of disability
• Lived welfare and everyday experiences of people with
disabilities, e.g. living at home, in a workhouse or mental
institution, the impact of various welfare systems

To submit a proposal, please send title and abstract of 200 words,
with your contact information and affiliation by February 15, 2019, at

Conference website:

Participation is free of charge, and includes lunches and coffees for

The conference is organized by the Academy of Finland Centre of
Excellence in the History of Experiences (HEX, at the University of Tampere and the
group “Lived Religion” and has received funding from The Jenny and
Antti Wihuri Foundation and HEX. For more information, please write to
the organizers ( and

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s