Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Embodying life and death: The body in Anglo-Saxon England 

Saturday 22nd October 2016, Durham University

Keynote speaker: Prof Catherine Karkov (University of Leeds)

The Anglo-Saxon period is characterised by significant cultural shifts and transformations. Emerging kingdoms, religious conversion, economic intensification, growing cultural contact and mobility result in increasing social complexity. Situated directly at the centre of these multiple transformations are the understudied Anglo-Saxon bodies, enacting, resisting and adapting to the ever changing world around them. The Anglo-Saxons employed the human form on elite gear and paraphernalia, found humour in the human anatomy as evidenced in their riddles and, in death, left behind their bodies often disposing of them with elaborate treatments, rich goods, and theatrical staging. From the Germanic 'pagan' to the Christian periods, the Anglo-Saxons considered and debated the power of the human body in real and metaphysical terms. Despite immensely varied treatment, representation and conceptualisation of the body, a lacunae remains in scholarship on the Anglo-Saxon body. This represents a challenging field of discourse that can facilitate cross-period and cross-disciplinary study on the changing nature of body portrayal and perception across c. AD 400-1100. 

This interdisciplinary conference will examine and unfold the multiplicity and vibrancy of the body in the Anglo-Saxon world. Paper proposals are invited on any aspect of embodied living and dying in early medieval England and continental parallels, and from researchers in any discipline. Possible topics include but are not limited to: 

Gender, sex, and sexuality
Nakedness, clothing, and the flesh
Physical appearance, hygiene, and bodily aesthetics Sensory perception and experience Religious conversion: the pagan body and the Christian body Dying, death, and the corpse The abnormal, the monstrous, and the Other Health, disease, and medicine Bodily governance and corporal punishment Bodies whole and body parts Envisioning the Anglo-Saxon body in the contemporary world

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words to Sian Mui (sean.mui@durham.ac.uk) by 31 March 2016. 

For more information:
Sian Mui, sean.mui@durham.ac.uk
Tristan Lake, tristan.lake@durham.ac.uk Department of Archaeology, Durham University, South Road, Durham, DH1 3LE. 

This conference is kindly funded by the Department of Archaeology and the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Durham University. 

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