Nature and the Unnatural in the Middle Ages: New Perspectives


This panel invites new perspectives on how notions of the natural and unnatural shaped medieval definitions and interpretations of the world. Men and women during the Middle Ages 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, and sexual propriety and deviance, among a whole host of other phenomena. Similarly, notions of nature and the unnatural undergird a variety of textual and material survivals, including scholastic texts on perspectiva, scientific and magical manuscripts, mappae mundi, and liturgical objects. Thus, in what ways can new scholarly perspectives refresh our understanding of what nature and the unnatural meant during the Middle Ages, and how such concepts functioned for different people? How was the line between the natural and unnatural defined? These are but a few questions this panel seeks to explore. We look forward to abstracts from every discipline, and welcome papers representing a diverse range of temporal and geographical specializations.

Please send submissions to Melissa Horn at More information on the conference can be found here.

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