Call for Papers: ‘The Medical Paratext’, University of Glasgow, 7th-8th September 2022 (Deadline 30th April 2022)

‘Paratext’ is a term coined by Gérard Genette in 1987 to refer to the material surrounding a printed text, including titles, prefaces, introductions, and footnotes. The notion of the paratext has recently been introduced to the study of medieval codices, with scholars working on medieval palaeography and codicology currently negotiating its various categorisations and the challenges thereof. An important category of medieval manuscripts that has often been neglected in that respect is that of medical codices. This conference aims to plug this gap by applying the concept of the paratext right to the very heart of the study of medieval medical manuscripts containing texts in a variety of languages, including Arabic, Persian, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and other European vernacular. It thus seeks to make a significant advance in our understanding of how medieval medical manuscripts were used by their producers and consumers. We are interested in encouraging theoretical reflection on the following subjects/questions:

Different kinds and categories of paratextual elements (e.g. prefaces, foliation, decoration, illustrations, diagrams, annotations of any sort, colophons) and their significance;

  • Transformation of texts through paratexts. How can the use of specific paratextual elements enhance/influence the reading/understanding of a particular medical text/theory?
  • Paratextual elements as visual aids, especially, but not exclusively, in scholastic settings;
  • The features of scribal and editorial paratextuality in medical works;
  • Extensive paratexts (e.g. commentaries and scholia) and their function;
  • The mobility of paratexts (e.g. their infiltration into the main text) and the transmission of the resulting ‘hidden’ paratext;
  • Medical paratexts and their reception;
  • Paratext and memory in medieval medicine (e.g. through the lens of cognitive theory);
  • Paratext as a means of tracing the history of medical codices through time, geographical and social space;
  • Paratext as a means of constructing and disseminating medical knowledge. 

Our aim is to hold a face-to-face event. Each paper will be 30 minutes long followed by a session of questions and answers (around 10 minutes). We are looking for papers dealing with original and previously unpublished material; extended versions of the papers will form a peer-reviewed edited volume.

Scholars are invited to submit abstracts of ca. 250 words to sophia.xenofontos@glasgow.ac.uk and petros.bouras-vallianatos@ed.ac.uk by 30 April 2022.

Organised by Petros Bouras-Vallianatos (University of Edinburgh) and Sophia Xenophontos (University of Glasgow). Funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Published by charlottecook

Charlotte Cook graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in European History from Washington & Lee University in 2019. In 2020 she received her Master’s degree in History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, earning the classification of Merit. Her research explores questions of royal patronage, both by and in honor of rulers, in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century England. She has worked as a researcher and collections assistant at several museums and galleries, and plans to begin her PhD in the autumn of 2022.

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