Session Title

Nature and the Unnatural in the Middle Ages: New Perspectives

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Medieval Studies Workshop, Univ. of Chicago

Organizer Name

Melissa Horn

Organizer Affiliation

Univ. of Chicago

Presider Name

Melissa Horn

Paper Title 1

The Green Man (and His Cat)

Presenter 1 Name

Paul Hardwick

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Leeds Trinity Univ.

Paper Title 2

What Is Natural Anyway? A Re-examination of Folklore, Monastic Exempla, and Encounters with Unnatural Entities in the Late Middle Ages

Presenter 2 Name

Stephanie Victoria Violette

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Univ. of California-San Diego

Paper Title 3

The Devil and Julian of Norwich

Presenter 3 Name

Gina Brandolino

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Univ. of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Start Date

11-5-2018 1:30 PM

Session Location

Schneider 1360

Description

Scholarship on the Middle Ages has long turned to medieval conceptions of nature and the unnatural as a deep cultural logic underlying a broad range medieval social and cultural practices. This panel seeks new work on nature and the unnatural in the middle ages, inviting new perspectives on how notions of nature/unnature shaped medieval definitions and interpretations of their world. Medieval people variously theorized the fluid boundary between nature and the unnatural: it described the liminal space between the celestial and infernal worlds, the miraculous and decaying body, sexual propriety and deviance, and mystical visions, among a whole host of other phenomena. Similarly, notions of nature and the unnatural undergird a variety of medieval textual and material survivals, including scholastic texts on perspectiva, Gothic architectural ornament, saints’ lives, surveying manuals, monastic rules, mappae mundi, and liturgical objects. How can new scholarly perspectives refresh our understanding of what, and how, nature and unnature meant during the Middle Ages? How might these new perspectives help uncover medieval theorizations of nature and the unnatural in places and sources we haven’t yet looked? In short: what else was nature and the unnatural during the Middle Ages? These are but a few questions this panel seeks to explore.

Melissa Horn

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May 11th, 1:30 PM

Nature and the Unnatural in the Middle Ages: New Perspectives

Schneider 1360

Scholarship on the Middle Ages has long turned to medieval conceptions of nature and the unnatural as a deep cultural logic underlying a broad range medieval social and cultural practices. This panel seeks new work on nature and the unnatural in the middle ages, inviting new perspectives on how notions of nature/unnature shaped medieval definitions and interpretations of their world. Medieval people variously theorized the fluid boundary between nature and the unnatural: it described the liminal space between the celestial and infernal worlds, the miraculous and decaying body, sexual propriety and deviance, and mystical visions, among a whole host of other phenomena. Similarly, notions of nature and the unnatural undergird a variety of medieval textual and material survivals, including scholastic texts on perspectiva, Gothic architectural ornament, saints’ lives, surveying manuals, monastic rules, mappae mundi, and liturgical objects. How can new scholarly perspectives refresh our understanding of what, and how, nature and unnature meant during the Middle Ages? How might these new perspectives help uncover medieval theorizations of nature and the unnatural in places and sources we haven’t yet looked? In short: what else was nature and the unnatural during the Middle Ages? These are but a few questions this panel seeks to explore.

Melissa Horn