Symposium 2023: Embodied Histories

How do primary sources embody premodern history? How are embodied realities reflected in primary sources? How do primary sources mediate premodern bodies, and how do we as scholars go about this mediation?

CMEMS is thrilled to be hosting its 9th annual Primary Source Symposium on the theme of "Embodiment." 

The workshop will be held in person April 13-14, 2023.

For its 2023 Primary Source Symposium, CMEMS chose papers that engaged with this year’s theme of “embodiment” through close analysis of medieval or early modern primary sources, whether music or architecture, text or image, or other objects. This symposium stands at the convergence of more recent trends that consider primary sources as the past materialized in an object and that examine the sensory, spatial, and political dimensions of premodern bodies. CMEMS thus invites papers that interrogate how scholars can use primary sources to write embodied histories. We are especially keen on receiving proposals that are interdisciplinary, comparative, and/or expand the scope of medieval and early modern studies to a more global level. Papers from Stanford graduate students and postdocs are especially welcome.

This Year's Program

Panel 1: Pistachios, Geriatric Sex, & Vampires
Thu April 13th 2023, 1:30 - 3:00pm; (Hohbach 122, inside Green Library)

Session Chair: Dillon Gisch

Hannah Johnston (Stanford History), “ 'Dame Venus' and the Monster: Machiavelli, The Sex Industry, and the Performance of Gender in Sixteenth-Century Italy”

Hüseyin Göcen (UC Davis), “Plagues, vampires, and fatwas: Vampire-related questions in provincial jurisconsults’ fatwa collections in early modern Ottoman Empire (1600-1800)”

Jessica Riskin (Stanford History), “The Garden Where it All Began (No, Not That Garden)”

Keynote Address: Peggy McCracken (U Michigan), “History and Embodiment in the Ovide moralisé”
Thu April 13th 2023, 5:00 - 6:00pm; (Hohbach 122, inside Green Library)

The fourteenth-century Ovide moralisé is itself a historical reading of a primary text. The translator-adaptor moralizes Ovid’s Metamorphoses and reads them as representations of sacred and secular history. In this study, I read the Ovide moralisé as a historical and a theoretical text, that is, as a primary source that both makes historiographical claims and theorizes the bodies through which such claims are articulated. I will focus in particular on the story of Calisto, raped by Jupiter, transformed into a bear by Juno, and then into a constellation by Jupiter. More broadly, I will interrogate the articulation of history on the (transformed) bodies of women and the inscription of history on the transformed bodies of animals.

Panel 2: Body, Mind, & Soul
Fri April 14th 2023, 10:00 - 11:30am (Hohbach 122, inside Green Library)

Session Chair: Fiona Griffiths 

Edward Halley Barnet (Huntington Library), “Embodied Souls and Vital Sounds in Perrault’s Essais de physique and Baglivi’s De Fibre Motrice

Audrey Martel-Dion (Stanford History), “Early Modern Embodiments of Gender in Eighteenth-Century Italy: The Case of Giovanni Bordoni”

Merve Tekgürler (Stanford History), “ 'Deficiency of Attention' and 'Stubborn Pondering': From Eighteenth-Century Pathologization to Contemporary Medicalization of Attention and its Disorder”

Panel 3: Sound, Space, & Lyric
Fri April 14th 2023, 3:00 - 4:30pm; (Hohbach 122, inside Green Library)

Session Chair: Nicole Hughes

Bissera Pentcheva (Stanford Art & Art History), “AudioVision at Sainte-Foy in Conques”

Marisa Galvez (Stanford French and Italian), “Embodiments of Lyric Form as a New Approach to Global Premodern Culture”

Lorenzo Tunesi (Stanford Music), “Walking and Hearing on a Feast Day: Narrating, Reenacting, and Questioning Listening on St. Joseph’s Day in 15th-century Milan”

Click here for a copy of the program for this year's symposium.

To read more about why the CMEMS team chose the theme of Embodiment for this year's symposium and workshop series, click here.

Questions about the symposium should be directed to our symposium coordinator, Emilia Cottignoli (emililarc [at] (emiliarc[at]stanford[dot]edu)), feel free to CC the CMEMS email as well with any additional queries (cmemsinfo [at] (cmemsinfo[at]stanford[dot]edu)).