Session Title

Pills, Poisons, Potions, and Lotions: Marvelous Substances in the Middle Ages and Early Modernity

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Monsters: The Experimental Association for the Research of Cryptozoology through Scholarly Theory and Practical Application (MEARCSTAPA)

Organizer Name

Asa Simon Mittman; Stefanie A. Goyette

Organizer Affiliation

California State Univ.-Chico; Durham Academy

Presider Name

Tina M. Boyer

Presider Affiliation

Wake Forest Univ.

Paper Title 1

Charming Diseases: The Words, Performances, and Magical Mixtures of Anglo-Saxon Charms

Presenter 1 Name

Mary Leech

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Univ. of Cincinnati

Paper Title 2

Cosmetics and Magic in Medieval "Ethnic Passing"

Presenter 2 Name

Ana Grinberg

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Auburn Univ.

Paper Title 3

Those Eyes, That Touch: Toxic Intentions and the Narrative of Reformation in Two Early Modern Plays

Presenter 3 Name

Thea Tomaini

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Univ. of Southern California

Start Date

12-5-2019 8:30 AM

Session Location

Fetzer 1045

Description

Whether toxic or salubrious, applied or ingested, wondrous substances abound in medieval literary, medical, and religious cultures. A powerful unguent makes Chrétien de Troyes’ Yvain entirely “human” again; a love potion causes Tristan and Iseut’s cursed infatuation. Medieval medicine does not disdain saintly substances: the powdered earth from a stylite’s roost or the oil miraculously excreted from hallowed relics. Old women could project diabolical poisons, requiring apotropaic deflection. Marvel or corruption, substances can induce or eliminate monstrosity, return subjects to their “natural” forms or exclude them from the social, and even human, order. Cosmetics or elixirs can conceal or reveal monstrous bodies. We seek papers on medicines, poisons, and cosmetics, antidotes and toxins, asking how they manifest broader ideas about the human and the natural by making discourses visible on the body, highlighting the role of powerful substances in constituting the human body and mind and not simply curing or killing it. Or, we ask what it means to “cure.” These are questions relevant in the present, as we consider what “normal” means in psycho-pharmaceutical terms and ask how the use of cosmetics enforces or signals gender and class distinctions. Asa S. Mittman

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May 12th, 8:30 AM

Pills, Poisons, Potions, and Lotions: Marvelous Substances in the Middle Ages and Early Modernity

Fetzer 1045

Whether toxic or salubrious, applied or ingested, wondrous substances abound in medieval literary, medical, and religious cultures. A powerful unguent makes Chrétien de Troyes’ Yvain entirely “human” again; a love potion causes Tristan and Iseut’s cursed infatuation. Medieval medicine does not disdain saintly substances: the powdered earth from a stylite’s roost or the oil miraculously excreted from hallowed relics. Old women could project diabolical poisons, requiring apotropaic deflection. Marvel or corruption, substances can induce or eliminate monstrosity, return subjects to their “natural” forms or exclude them from the social, and even human, order. Cosmetics or elixirs can conceal or reveal monstrous bodies. We seek papers on medicines, poisons, and cosmetics, antidotes and toxins, asking how they manifest broader ideas about the human and the natural by making discourses visible on the body, highlighting the role of powerful substances in constituting the human body and mind and not simply curing or killing it. Or, we ask what it means to “cure.” These are questions relevant in the present, as we consider what “normal” means in psycho-pharmaceutical terms and ask how the use of cosmetics enforces or signals gender and class distinctions. Asa S. Mittman