ICMS Kalamazoo 2021: Treating Animals: Veterinary Science in the Middle Ages

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo; May 7-10, 2020. Special Session.
contact email: 

Medieval animal studies has tended to privilege literary and encyclopedic texts, viewing animals within Aristotelian hierarchies of rationality, while research on animals in medieval medicine has focused on their use as ingredients, rather than their potential status as patients. There have been few discussions of animals and humans in relationships of care, or of animals as the recipients of medical treatment. In this panel, we seek to expand these conversations by centering veterinary medicine, including treatment manuals (e.g., hawking handbooks), literary representations of veterinary practices (e.g., romance heroes caring for horses), and other genres that concern the (un)ethical, (il)legal, or (im)proper treatment, training, or keeping of animals. In light of the ongoing Anthropocene extinction, we believe that medieval veterinary texts and allied genres can contribute to the urgent philosophical project of decentering the human, enabling us to describe relationships of mutual benefit between humans and animals in this period, and to cultivate more ethical perspectives today.

We welcome 15- to 20-minute papers on this topic from any discipline, including the Environmental Humanities (e.g., ecocriticism, ecofeminism, studies of human-animal relationships), Medical Humanities (e.g., history of medicine, disability studies, medical readings of non-medical texts), and legal and religio-philosophical studies of animal care. We are particularly interested in papers that engage with historical scientific discourses, alone or in combination with literary or historical discourses. We welcome papers that focus on any pre-modern period – from late Antiquity through the Early Modern period – and any geographical region – from Britain to Central Asia, from Iceland to Northern Africa. Comparative and cross-disciplinary approaches are most welcome.

Please submit a proposal at https://wmich.edu/medievalcongress/call by September 15th, 2020. For more information, contact Aylin Malcolm (malcolma@sas.upenn.edu). Preliminary queries and expressions of interest are welcome.