Monthly Archives: July 2019

Highlights from the Parergon archives: Medical diagnosis of demonic possession

We asked members of Parergon‘s Early Career Committee to tell us about a Parergon article that really stood out for them and why they found it valuable for their research. In this post, Brendan Walsh talks about Judith Bonzol’s important 2009 article, “The Medical Diagnosis of Demonic Possession in an Early Modern English Community,” which appeared in Parergon 26.1 (

Judith Bonzol’s article highlights the application of medical diagnosis in the 1604 demonic possession case of Anne Gunther. Demonic possession in the early modern period was often attributed to three main causes: genuine possession, natural illnesses, or fraud. Yet, it is with the possession of Anne Gunther that the notion of genuine possession was placed under considerable scrutiny in England. The Gunther case was at the forefront of a marked shift in early modern Reformed Protestant demonology, a shift that placed emphasis on establishing natural causation for seemingly demonic illnesses. Bonzol illustrates how Gunther’s possession was scrutinized by the ecclesiastical elite and dismissed as natural in origin through the use of medical diagnosis. Furthermore, this article delves into the complex social factors at play in the Gunther case, outlining how the influence of familial and community relationships, particularly between physicians and patients, shaped how spirit possession manifested.

The Anne Gunther possession emerged in the aftermath of the John Darrell Controversy. In 1598/99, the Puritan exorcist John Darrell (1562-?) was convicted on multiple charges of fraud by the High Commission. Fronted by Archbishop of Canterbury, John Whitgift; the Bishop of London, Richard Bancroft; along with his chaplain, Samuel Harsnett, the High Commission ruled that Darrell had engaged in fraudulent exorcisms and stripped him of his ministry. These churchmen would usher in a period of demonological scepticism within the Church of England, leading to the introduction of ecclesiastical reform concerning witchcraft and demonic possession. The possession of Anne Gunther was one such example in which these reforms would be enacted, while also highlighting the role that physicians played in these instances.

The significance of the Gunther case was that it set the precedent for how medical diagnosis could be used to dismiss seemingly demonic illnesses. During her possession, Gunther experienced a series of strange convulsions, attacks of blindness, deafness, and fearful visions. She foamed at the mouth, abstained from taking food for long periods of time, and could describe actions performed in other rooms or how much money an individual held in their purse. As was the case with suspected demonic illnesses, medical experts were called in to examine the patient. This was at the behest of Anne’s father Brian Gunther, a man of high social-standing in the local community. Initially, physicians agreed with the Gunther patriarch that his daughter was possessed. However, this diagnosis may have simply been due to the family’s social standing. As Bonzol states, “physicians at this time were desperate to establish themselves as superior to their numerous medical rivals, and while their number included some of the best-educated secular men in England, their social status was not particularly high. In their struggle for respectability, acceptance, and social status, the physicians in the Gunter case may have thought it expedient simply to tell their client what he wanted to hear” (133). However, once the Church of England became aware of the situation, medical diagnosis would be used to challenge (and eventually dismiss) Gunther’s previously accepted possession.

I first became aware of Judith Bonzol’s work through my own research into the John Darrell Controversy. Within the scholarship on early modern demonology, this article makes effective use of the Gunther case in examining the cultural factors surrounding medical diagnosis and spirit possession in early modern England. Bonzol has written extensively on the nature of supernatural illnesses in the early modern English context. I had the pleasure of meeting Judith as an PhD student at ANZAMEMS 2017 in Wellington, and then presenting alongside her as a recent doctoral graduate at ANZAMEMS 2019 in Sydney. For any reader interested in early modern medicine, demonology, or ecclesiastical politics, this article serves as an insightful and engaging piece of scholarship.

Dr Brendan Walsh is a researcher in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Queensland.

Parergon can be accessed via Project MUSE (from Volume 1 (1983)), Australian Public Affairs – Full Text (from 1994), and Humanities Full Text (from 2008). For more information on the current issue and on submitting manuscripts for consideration, please visit

2020 Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship book prize

The SMFS Book Committee is now accepting submissions for the 2020 First Book of Feminist Scholarship on the Middle Ages. We are soliciting submissions of first monographs in any area of medieval studies. Nominated books should represent the best first monographs of feminist medieval scholarship published AND with a copyright date in 2018 or 2019.

The prize (an award of US$500), will be announced in the US spring, and formally awarded at the SMFS reception at the Kalamazoo International Medieval Congress next May. Self-nominations are acceptable; presses may nominate more than one title.

Please arrange for TWO copies (preferably paper copies) of each nominated book to be sent to SMFS President, Dr. Linda Mitchell, at the address below, along with a letter of application that summarises the book’s merits and its contribution to feminist scholarship.

The deadline for nominations and receipt of books to be considered is Friday, 18 October 2019. Please note that if your book is copyrighted for 2020, you should wait for the next iteration of this contest, in two years.

Please send all submissions to:

Dr. Linda Mitchell
7559 Walnut Street
Kansas City, MO 64114

If you have an e-book version of your book available to send, please make sure that it can be duplicated so that everyone on the committee is able to read the book, and that it is not owner- or password-protected. Please also remember that sending proofs of a book that is as yet unpublished might be a violation of copyright law, so if that is what you have available, you must check with the publisher to make sure that the use of the proofs for the purposes of the prize contest is acceptable to them.

Please also note that the SMFS Advisory Board’s Book Committee has limited numbers of members with fluency in (modern) languages other than English, so if you are interested in submitting a monograph in a language other than English please do send a query BEFORE sending the book.

Parergon 36.1 preview: Acculturation and Anglo-Moroccon encounters, 1625-84.

We asked contributors to the current issue of Parergon to give us some additional insights into their research and the inspirations for their articles. In this post, Rickie Lette, who recently completed his PhD in history at the University of Tasmania, talks about his piece, “John Harrison: A Case Study of the Acculturation of an Early Modern Briton” (doi:10.1353/pgn.2019.0005).

My current research interests are principally focussed on the personal and wider cultural and social effects of encounter and exchange between Europeans and non-Europeans from the late medieval to early modern periods, with a particular emphasis on Christian-Muslim relations. My doctoral thesis reappraises the engagement of Britons with Moroccans between 1625 and 1684, examining not only the influence that their personal experiences had on their attitudes and sense of self-identity, but also on Anglo-Moroccan relations more generally during this formative period of English imperial development. It was a subject that combined my interest in inter-cultural relations and a country which had fascinated me from my first visit. And, it also provided scope for a challenging project through which I could, hopefully, make a substantial contribution to knowledge in the field.

North Africa, and the wider Mediterranean region, played important roles in England’s development as an imperial power, contributions which have largely been overlooked. While increasing attention has been given to the consequences of cultural interaction of Europe’s imperial expansion, like a number of other scholars working in this area, I believe that to properly historicise the resulting interactions and understand their impact it is necessary to move beyond generalisations and simplistic binary perspectives, and examine these encounters more closely at the level of the individuals who were directly involved. Doing so helps reveal a much more complex reality in which traditional prejudices were frequently challenged and new ideas and perspectives emerged. The case study of John Harrison, with which the article is concerned, embodies the approach I adopted in the wider study and some of its key general findings.

One distinctive aspect of my recent work has been my use of theories, methodologies and studies from other disciplines including literary criticism and anthropology. In particular, I have found the phenomenon of personal acculturation as expounded in cultural psychology a useful concept which can help provide novel insights into the nature and consequences of historical encounters between European and non-European peoples. Such analysis reveals that the socio-political conditions which existed in Morocco in the early seventeenth century not only affected diplomatic and commercial relations with England — which has already been studied by others — but they also had the potential to deeply impact the perceptions and responses of Britons who sojourned there. These insights assist our understanding of the broader dynamics and cultural impacts of encounter.

The article is the first published output arising from my doctoral thesis. Over the next eighteen months, I hope to publish one or two other essays as well as a monograph based on this work.

Parergon can be accessed via Project MUSE (from Volume 1 (1983)), Australian Public Affairs – Full Text (from 1994), and Humanities Full Text (from 2008). For more information on the current issue and on submitting manuscripts for consideration, please visit

CFP Romance and the Animal Turn, ICMS 2020 (Kalamazoo)

The animal turn has become hugely influential in medieval scholarship over the last decade. However, the contributions of ecofeminism and queer ecology have often been side-lined. Nevertheless, scholars are increasingly finding these modes of analysis to offer useful ways of exploring the role of the animal in medieval romance texts.

The Medieval Romance Society is hosting three sessions on romance and the animal turn at the 55th International Congress on Medieval Studies 2020, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo. All papers must be presented in English; however, we welcome submissions on romances from any region in the Middle Ages. We invite papers that respond to ecofeminist and queer ecological literary criticism; papers that respond to posthumanist and related philosophical theories; and papers which do not take a theoretical approach.

Session I: Romance and the Animal Turn I: Romance and Ecofeminism

This session welcomes papers looking at representations of gender, masculinity and/or femininity in relation to animals and nature in romance texts. Example topics could include: the role of the horse in chivalric masculinity, animal foster-mothers for human children, or gendered discourses of meat-eating. We particularly encourage papers that respond to contemporary ecofeminist theory, although this is not required.

Session II: Romance and the Animal Turn II: Romance and Queer Ecology

This session invites papers looking at representations of sex and sexuality and/or queer identity in relation to discourses of animals and nature in romance texts. Papers might explore the role of animals in the construction of heteronormative ideologies, queer animals in romance narratives, and species panic. We particularly encourage papers that respond to contemporary theories of queer ecology, although this is not required.

Session III: Romance and the Animal Turn III: Romance and Posthumanism

This session welcomes papers that explore discourses of human and animal identity in romance texts. Example topics could include: the role of the animal in ideologies of race, interspecies hybridity, and animal subjectivity in romance. We particularly encourage papers that respond to contemporary posthumanist theory, although this is not required.

Please send abstracts of up to 300 words to Tim Wingard ( by 1 September 2019.

For more information, visit:

CFP David Nichol Smith Seminar in Eighteenth-Century Studies XVII, Adelaide

Proposals are invited for the David Nichol Smith Seminar in Eighteenth-Century Studies XVII ‘Dark Enlightenments’, to take place 2-4 December 2020 in Adelaide, Australia.

Keynotes: Associate Professor Kate Fullager (Macquarie)
Professor Sasha Handley (Manchester)
Associate Professor Eugenia Zuroski (McMaster)

The Australian and New Zealand Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ANZSECS), Flinders University, and the University of Adelaide invite you to the 17th David Nichol Smith (DNS) Seminar for Eighteenth-Century Studies. Inaugurated in 1966 by the National Library of Australia, the DNS is the leading forum for eighteenth-century studies in Australasia. It brings together scholars from across the region and internationally who work on the long eighteenth century in a range of disciplines, including history, literature, art and architectural history, philosophy, theology, the history of science, musicology, anthropology, archaeology and studies of material culture.

The theme for this conference is ‘Dark Enlightenments.’ We ask delegates to consider the dark, shadowy aspects of enlightenment processes of the eighteenth century. When broadly conceived, the theme is open to numerous up-to-the-minute, interdisciplinary possibilities, including (for example):

  • the dark side of the public sphere, such as expressed in satire and polemic;
  • Empire and enlightenment;
  • critiques of empathy and humanitarianism;
  • negative emotions;
  • crime, conflict and violence;
  • the use and abuse of the past;
  • progress and ethics (political, social, scientific);
  • war;
  • romanticising death;
  • the Gothic;
  • the numinous eighteenth century;
  • the transformation of night-time;
  • developments in notions of privacy, secrecy and the hidden self;
  • the “shady” moralities of libertinism;
  • the aesthetics of darkness and light.

This, we believe, is a particularly timely theme, partly owing to the nationalist turn in global politics, and the recent controversy stirred in Australia by the proposed Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation. It offers both sides of the political spectrum the opportunity to interrogate and fully understand the costs, benefits, and legacies of eighteenth-century “progress.” It is also a theme designed to emphasise the Enlightenment in its moral complexity and richness, and the wide range of domains (from the everyday to philosophical thought) that contributed to its production.

We also welcome papers for subjects that fall outside the main conference theme.

Proposals for 20-minute papers should consist of a title, 250-word abstract, and short bio sent via email as a pdf attachment to

We also accept proposals for panels of three papers, which should include all the above for each presenter, a panel title, and if possible, the name and short bio of the panel chair.

Deadlines for submissions:

For early deliberation: 1 November 2019.
A first round of acceptances will be made shortly after this date to facilitate international attendance.

Final deadline: 1 March 2020

For further details, please consult the conference website:

Highlights from the Parergon archives: Methodology and medievalism

We asked members of Parergon‘s Early Career Committee to tell us about a Parergon article that really stood out for them and why they found it valuable for their research. In this post, Bronwyn Reddan talks about an innovative 2010 article by Helen Young that tackles important questions about methodology in approaches to medievalism. 

One of the things I enjoy about Parergon is the way it showcases the vibrancy of contemporary medieval and early modern scholarship by publishing articles on a diverse range of topics. My research focuses on early modern women writers, but my interest is often piqued by pieces on the afterlives of literary texts regardless of the period.

One example is Helen Young’s 2010 Parergon article ‘Approaches to Medievalism: A Consideration of Taxonomy and Methodology through Fantasy Fiction’ ( ). This offers a valuable methodological intervention in taxonomies of medievalism by proposing an approach that examines both the historical and imagined ‘medieval’ and the purpose and effects of medievalism. Young applies this approach to modern fantasy writing using case studies from Katharine Kerr’s genre fiction and two short stories by Neil Gaiman.

Through her analysis, Young demonstrates how an examination of the effects of medievalist practice reveal convergent layers of meaning that are not always captured by taxonomies of the use of medieval sources. Young’s more nuanced approach allows her to distinguish between different approaches and engagements with medieval source material by Kerr and Gaiman, while acknowledging similarities in their use of medievalism to engage in social commentary and critique.

Parergon can be accessed via Project MUSE (from Volume 1 (1983)), Australian Public Affairs – Full Text (from 1994), and Humanities Full Text (from 2008). For more information on the current issue and on submitting manuscripts for consideration, please visit

CFP Australia and New Zealand Law and History Society Conference

The 38th Annual Conference of the Australia and New Zealand Law and History Society will be held on 11-14 December 2019 at Victoria University College of Law & Justice, Melbourne, Australia. The conference theme is Does Law’s History Matter? The Politics of our Disciplinary Practices.

Writing law’s history has long been understood as a purposeful practice, both necessary and never complete, as the eminent British historian F.W. Maitland noted more than a century ago. Today with the flourishing of imperial and postcolonial scholarship, Maitland’s advocacy of researching law’s past prompts renewed attention to the progenitors, methods and politics of our disciplinary practices. The imperative of capturing and presenting that knowledge seems greater than ever before. Yet for those of us engaged in historical study it can often appear that what we do, and why we do it, is not always well recognised or as valued as it should be. Simultaneously, questions abound about the implications of our practice and its political impact or purpose.

For this conference, we invite those who bring an historical perspective on law to consider together the many ways our work has in the past, and continues into the future, to matter. For example: what is the politics in our chosen methods, or the value in our choice of subject matter? Does it matter how we present and produce work for different audiences (court, academy, or public), or has it mattered in the past? Does it matter to the reception of our work what sources we find and why we use them? And does it matter with whom we write; and whose laws, and experiences of law, we write about? What can we learn from critical study, however incomplete? This historical perspective on law is broadly defined – and includes those who position law in a temporal frame, who write legal history or histories of laws, lawmaking, legal ideas, jurisprudence, jurisdiction or legal institutions and their personnel.

On behalf of ANZLHS, the Conference Organizing Committee cordially invites papers on this theme from any period, geographical area, and from all disciplines – including but not limited to law, history, indigenous studies, environmental studies, legal theory, and gender studies. Please note presenters must be members of ANZLHS before their paper is accepted; and all presenters are invited to submit their papers after the conference to the ANZLHS journal, law&history.

Conference website:

Proposals for papers/panels:

Please email proposals for either individual papers (20 mins) or panels of 3-4 speakers or both to by 21 July 2019.

Individual paper proposals must include an abstract (no more than 300 words) and a biographical statement (no more than 100 words). Panel proposals should include the above, plus a title and brief rationale for the panel as a whole (no more than 300 words) .
Note: All presenters must be financial members of the Australia and New Zealand Law and History Society for 2019. Please go to the ANZLHS website to register or renew your membership:

Kercher Scholarships

Details can be found at Please email applications to the Conference Convenor, Dr Jason Taliadoros at by 31 August 2019.

CFP Carving Out Space for the History of Emotions

The call for papers is open for Carving out a Space for the History of Emotions, to be held at UCD Humanities Institute, Dublin, Ireland on 18 January 2020.

Deadline for submission: 16 September 2019

Funded by an Irish Research Council (IRC) New Foundations Award and organised in collaboration with the Architecture and Narrative Project, the UCD Centre for the History of Medicine and the UCD Humanities Institute.

Invited Speakers: Dr. Tiffany Watt-Smith, Prof. Dr. Margrit Pernau, and Dr. Rob Boddice

Since the 1980s, historians have developed a number of methodologies in the process of what Rob Boddice has called “carving out a space in which the history of emotions can exist.” The history of emotions is now one of the main preoccupations of the humanities, so much so that some have declared a ‘turn to emotions.’ This one-day conference aims to highlight the main trends and approaches in the history of emotions, demonstrating, above all, what the history of emotions is and is not. In doing so, it hopes to support the research that is being undertaken in Ireland on the history of emotions while also facilitating future developments. Submissions should address methodologies on topics including, but not limited, to:

  • Built environment and Emotions
  • Emotions, Disease and Health
  • Emotions and Childhood
  • Emotions and War
  • Emotions and Reform
  • Gender, Sexuality, and Emotions
  • Objects and Emotions
  • Affective Dimensions of Source Materials

Scholars from various disciplines and papers on any place/period are welcome. We accept proposals for individual papers, themed sessions, and round tables.

Individual paper sessions will consist of 3 papers, each of which will be presented within 20 minutes. Submissions should include: 1) An abstract of no more than 250 words; 2) A short biography of no more than 100 words including contact information.

Themed sessions will consist of 3 papers, each of which will be presented within 20 minutes. Submissions should include: 1) A 300-word rationale for the session as a whole; 2) An abstract of no more than 250 words for each contributor; 3) A short biography of no more than 100 words for each contributor including contact information.

Round table sessions will consist of 4 papers, each of which will be presented within 10 minutes. Round table sessions will provide an opportunity for researchers to present and discuss work in progress, especially, regarding methodologies. Submissions should include: 1) An abstract of no more than 250 words; 2) A short biography of no more than 100 words including contact information.

Submissions should be sent by 16 September 2019 to Dr. Sara Honarmand Ebrahimi at

You will be informed by 31 October 2019 whether your submission has been accepted.

About: The Carving out a Space for the History of Emotions conference is organized as part of the event series “Worrying about the Field of the History of Emotions in Ireland.” The events have been funded by an Irish Research Council New Foundations award and is a collaboration between the Architecture and Narrative project, the UCD Centre for the History of Medicine and the UCD Humanities Institute.

For more information about the events visit

2021 Catharine Stimpson Prize for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship

The University of Chicago Press and Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society are pleased to announce the competition for the 2021 Catharine Stimpson Prize for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship. Named in honour of the founding editor of Signs, the Catharine Stimpson Prize is designed to recognize excellence and innovation in the work of emerging feminist scholars.

The Catharine Stimpson Prize is awarded biennially to the best paper in an international competition. Leading feminist scholars from around the globe will select the winner. The prizewinning paper will be published in Signs, and the author will be provided an honorarium of US$1,000. All papers submitted for the Stimpson Prize will be considered for peer review and possible publication in Signs.


Feminist scholars in the early years of their careers (fewer than seven years since receipt of the terminal degree) are invited to submit papers for the Stimpson Prize. This includes current graduate students. Papers may be on any topic that falls under the broad rubric of interdisciplinary feminist scholarship. Submissions must be no longer than 10,000 words (including notes and references) and must conform to the guidelines for Signs contributors (

Deadline for submissions: 1 March, 2020.

Please submit papers online at Be sure to indicate submission for consideration for the Catharine Stimpson Prize. The honorarium will be awarded upon publication of the prizewinning article.

Contact with any questions.

Job: Postdoctoral Researcher in Medieval Manuscript Studies (0.8FTE)

Radboud University Nijmegen is advertising a position for a Postdoctoral Researcher in Medieval Manuscript Studies (0.8FTE) to be part of the research team of the ERC-funded project Patristic Sermons in the Middle Ages. The dissemination, manipulation and interpretation of Late-Antique sermons in the Medieval Latin West (PASSIM).

The Postdoctoral Researcher will study the customisation of patristic sermon collections for use in the liturgy and Divine Office in medieval manuscripts from the 7th to the 15th century, with a particular emphasis on the Carolingian homiliary of Paul the Deacon and its reception.

Location: Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Duration: 3 years
Starting date: 1 January 2020 (negotiable)

Deadline for the application: 18 August 2019
Interviews: 16 September 2019
Contact: Dr. Shari Boodts (PI)

Full details of the job offer can be found here:
More information on the research project can be found here: