mardi 18 novembre 2014

Approches du handicap intellectuel au Moyen-âge

Approaches to intellectual disability in the Middle Ages: Thinking about ‘fools’ and ‘idiots

Dr Irina Metzler (Swansea University)

Tuesday (25th November) 
Wellcome Library, 183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE.
Doors open at 6pm prompt, the seminar will start at 6.15pm.

Physical disability in the Middle Ages has become a rapidly emerging topic for scholarly engagement in the past decade. However, mental, or intellectual, disability has not been adequately researched yet. ‘Even the most radical historians have only ever treated “intellectual disability” either as a footnote to the history of mental pathology dominated by mental illness, or of disability dominated by the physical disability’ (Goodey, A History of Intelligence and “Intellectual Disability”). This paper seeks to investigate the constructedness of medieval concepts and categories of intellectual impairment, including the problem of imposing modern definitions of ‘cognitive /intellectual/ mental disability’ onto the past. Philosophically, and subsequently judicially, medieval intellectual disability was considered the absence of reason, which contrasted the mentally disabled with the Aristotelian concept of man as the rational animal. Although normative texts will be the primary focus of the paper, some consideration will be given as to how these concepts affected quotidian life for mentally disabled persons, especially by looking afresh at the popular stereotype of the medieval court fool or jester.

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