Saturday, May 17, 2008

Two new blogs: medieval and disability studies

Both are composed by graduate students who are working to make these fields of study intersect. They contain ruminations personal and professional.


Greg Carrier said...

Hi, Dr. Cohen.

The Medieval Cripples, Crazies and Imbeciles ... and a Service Dog is my blog, actually. I'm Greg Carrier; I'm finishing up my MA and hoping to go on to the PhD in the near future, also in medieval disability studies.

If I may ask, how did you come across my blog? Just curious, seeing as I was convinced to start it up only last week.

If I may also be allowed, please let me say how how much I appreciate your work. I think the idea of looking at things in the middle is absolutely essential in terms of medieval disability studies as well, seeing as virtually everything's from the top down with very little from the bottom up. (This is a result of the extant sources, of course.)

My particular interest is in trying to understand how medieval understandings of disability were created at both the 'theoretical' level (e.g. by theologians, jurists, physicians, etc.) and at the 'practical' level (e.g. families, carers, guardians, etc.).

Did those two understandings inform each other, or did they remain separate? Were definitions of disability flexible, or was there a (fairly) uniform set of definitions that were applicable to religious, legal, and everyday/ordinary understandings of disability?

I think this is a particularly important aspect that hasn't been considered, given that scholars have tended to assume that the 'theoretical' definitions that we have from extant sources did indeed translate into practical definitions and that those definitions were accepted as-is and can be placed in, or at least compared to, the modern models of disability that modern disability studies has established (e.g. the medical, social, and cultural definitions, for instance).

Have a good evening; hope to hear from you soon.

Jeffrey Cohen said...

I like how you frame your project, Greg (especially the interspace you trace between theory and lived practice). I'd be interested to hear what sources you'll use to investigate families and caregivers.

A great benefit of being a full professor is that when they promote you they also give you an invisible and all-seeing Eye that can discern all matter of relevance from vast distances. Thus your blog came to my notice almost instantly.

Or then again maybe it is that "Blogs That Link Here" button we put at the bottom of our main page. It triggers a live Technorati search.

Greg Carrier said...

Thank you.

Yes, I'm quite interested in this space, as you put it. I think this is where my own personal experience can be an asset - God knows I've had to deal with this 'space' in between theory and practice enough times in my life already (and will have to continue to, of course).

Good point regarding the button. I just noticed it. At any rate, I'm glad you found my blog - hope it'll be interesting!

If I may, could I ask if we could perhaps meet some time during the SEMA conference? It'd be quite interesting to discuss my project with you, see what you think in terms of feasibility and suggestions/advice.

Have a good time on the other side of the pond!

Alison Purnell said...

And I, in turn, am the other blogwriter. In "real life" my name is Alison Purnell, and I'm a PhD student (which you have already probably deduced).

My interests are quite similar to Greg's, though I am focusing on the religious aspect of things. The plan thus far is to examine the interplay between medical/philosophical understandings of the mind and how that gets reflected in the pastoral and regulatory literature of the Church. Again, like Greg, I am interested in the seeming fluidity of medieval definitions, and I think one way we can begin to understand what medieval pastoral literature means by "furens" or "imbecillens" is to explore the concept behind it.

And in a rather circular fashion, when we can understand what the writers of pastoral literature meant, we can begin to locate the mentally Other within his or her own society. I am interested to know who (and why) were excluded from the adult life of the Church (through the sacraments).

I believe that legal aspects of disability have different dimensions than sacral aspects.

Jeffrey Cohen said...

Greg and Alison, I wnat to welcome you both to the ITM community! If you would be interested, separately or in tandem, in doing a guest post at ITM on medieval and disability studies, my co-bloggers and I would be happy to have you make use of the forum. At this point we have nearly 100 RSS subscribers plus between 200-300 visits per day, so this would be a good work of both showcasing and getting feedback on your work.

Please contact me via email if interested [jjcohen @ gwu . edu]

Alison Purnell said...

I know I would love to, at least sometime in the not-immediate future! I am in supervisory limbo right now, plus a number of deadlines, but I'm certainly happy to give some thoughts. I'll keep in touch. :)

Greg Carrier said...

I have to echo Alison's sentiments. I'd love to do a guest post or two. I'll send you an email in a few minutes.

Thanks again!

Greg Carrier said...

My post will be ready some time next week; I'll email it to you when it's ready and you can post it as time permits.