54th International Congress on Medieval Studies

Conference Date: May 9, 2019–May 12, 2019 Location: Medieval Institute Western Michigan University Kalamazoo, MI 49008 United States Session Title: Byzantine Responses to Minorities: The Case of the Physically Impaired Session Date: TBA

Byzantine Responses to Minorities: The Case of the Physically Impaired

Sickness, disfigurement, and disability were commonplace in the Byzantine world. Yet the histories of those who did not conform to ‘able‐bodied’ norms are often left untold by Byzantinists. While eunuchs are an obvious exception to this rule, more of these groups deserve to be included in discourses of power and social order. Our session aims to address this imbalance by using histories, saints’ Lives, and canon law to explore the experiences of the chronically-ill, disfigured, or otherwise incapacitated, between the eighth and twelfth centuries. Our papers aim to illustrate that integrating disability as a category of analysis and a system of representation can deepen and challenge our understanding of Byzantine identity.