Add terms here...
Madness
Depression
Dementia
Epilepsy
Blindness
Deafness
Disability itself [JE]
Sick/Unwell [JE]
Infirmity [JO]
Leprosy [JO]
Amputation [JPS]

[JE] What about terms medieval authors themselves would have used, but--of course--are now considered offensive within and outside the community of people with disabilities, e.g.:

crippled (there's definitely an OE term for this)
lame
idiot (Bede uses this one)
leper [JO]
monster, monstrosity [JO]
abnormality, broadly defined--a category for markers of difference recognized as "disabling" within a specific culture [JPS]

Will these fit under the umbrella terms as well?

This looks like a good start to me. I do think some sort of word connoting mobility should be on this general list, but right away we run into the question of terms like "cripple" and "lame" (i.e. outmoded/offensive, although a case could be made that "crip" is being reclaimed in contemporary activist/theoretical contexts). I think what we should try to do is start off with *reasonably* common sense "umbrella" terms and then cluster other outdated variants underneath that general category (with the caveat that such outdated terms would are not considered preferable today). Would "mobility disability" or even just "mobility" (vaguely) do the trick for a general reader/user? (I'd guess this might...) [JH]

On a related note: something like "melancholye" might be enfolded into a discussion of "depression" but of course that's inexact; there are of other things like, say, lovesickness (amor hereos) or a specific form of disease (e.g. leprosy) which seems quite important from a "medieval" framework but don't exactly translate "forward" in time. [JH]

ANOTHER random idea (which may not work): maybe choose keywords e.g. Disease, Mobility, Cognition, Sight, Hearing, Disease and cluster terms under those categories? Perhaps that's is too obscure though... [JH]

I REALLY like Jonathan's idea of choosing cluster keywords: Disease, Mobility, Cognition & Emotion (> mental illness), the Senses, Appearance, Care (> hospitals, Seven Works of Corporal Mercy, etc). Each of these macro-words would bring the user to a page with a short, basic discussion of the meaning and issues raised by a particular macro-term, which would form a bridge between medieval disability studies and modern (After our basic start-up list of macro-words, we could start adding more and cross-linking terms within the glossary. For instance, the macro-term "Prosthesis" might be added, with links to "clapper" (perhaps originally under "Leprosy," under "Disease") and "staff/cane" (originally under "Mobility"). This form of navigation would be very nested: Disease > Leprosy > Clapper. Eventually, once we start building out terms, we could ALSO make an alphabetical list (like this), so that someone could scan down the list to find "disease", "leprosy", and "clapper" all listed.

Also, I like the idea (mentioned in our conference call) that one or two of us would be the "editors" for each macro-word -- trying to recruit contributors, thinking about new words that might be added (we can add "wish" words with dead links, encouraging people to fill them out), what the best organization nested categories for a particular word would be, some form of "peer review" and quality control....

So, building off of what Jonathan suggested, could we brainstorm some macro-words?
Disease -- leprosy, epilepsy, St. Anthony's Fire, scrofula, plague
Mobility --
Cognition & Emotion (> mental illness) -- frenzy, mania, melancholy, idiocy, "phantasie"
the Senses -- blindness, deafness
Appearance -- monstrosity, physiognomy, scars
Care -- hospitals, miracles, Seven Works of Corporal Mercy, pilgrimage
??? -- pain, penance, resurrection of the body

I look forward to hearing what other people think!! [JO]

  • I think it is a terrific idea to focus on umbrella "concepts" rather than terms, because it allows us to categorize and fit terms in, instead of working backwards. I could imagine that this is how the final glossary might be organized too. People look for the general concept or topic they are interested in, click on it, and see all of the terms for which we have created entries.
  • I like the concepts and divisions you have proposed as well, Julie, although I think maybe Mobility and the Senses might be combined (possibly? or combine Mobility with something else?). I also really like the idea of one or two of us being the editors for a particular section, and--as you say--seeking out contributors, etc. [JE]

This is John. I'm excited about the possibilities of what we're putting together here, but I'm starting to worry that we're putting the cart slightly before the horse. Does building the site around a set of macro-terms make the most sense? These terms will, presumably, be the entry point for many users, and the organizational principle upon which they are based still seems to me to be built on a foundation of imported significance from our own cultures. Unless I'm misunderstanding, the macro-terms will connect a set of terms from various languages and traditions, all of which are universalized insofar as they connect back to a modern word and meaning. This creates a set of problems--to take only one example from my own area, lycanthropy is sometimes treated in the sagas as a physical disability, sometimes as a mental disability, sometimes as an asset, and sometimes as an embarrassing hereditary trait not unlike male-pattern baldness (with which, in at least one case, it is explicitly connected). This term doesn't fit neatly into any one modern equivalent, and I worry that by trying to make it do so we would lose some of its meaning--or that, by remaining true to the term's richness, we would exclude it from an immediate accessibility through the macro-terms that will govern users' experience.

I'm certainly willing to work this way (and can see real advantages for the macro-terms as well), but I'd push for Julie's suggestion of an alphabetical list being added as soon as possible so that there's another way to encounter these terms--possibly a panlinguistic one and then one for each language. [JPS]

Jonathan here - JS makes the good point about the fact that so many medieval terms/concepts don't neatly correspond to modern categories. Not sure what is the most effective/useful way of organizing things in order to get us started. No mater what we do, I VERY much like the idea of an alphabetized "wishlist" (and as JS says such a list could include terms in languages other than English). I think it would be great if we could keep in mind the idea of *multiple* modes of access - so this could include some sort of aspirational alphabetized list *and* some sort of "scheme of entrypoint / access terms."

I'm wondering - as just a means of "getting us all started" here - if it might just work for each one of us on the editorial committee to claim a rich sample word that somehow that speaks to our own research interests or areas of expertise (I might pick "blindness" or "deafness," JO might pick a word like "leprosy"); we can start devising a sample entry on that word and can worry about what the larger access-point/interface will look like later. Meanwhile, we could compile a long brainstormy "laundry list" of terms to be alphabetized as a "wish list" - but not worry, at this point, about the organization/access issue. [JH]

[JE] Having gone back and forth about this, I think I am in agreement with John and Jonathan. I think it's a great idea to each just take a word in some language, like "lycanthropy" and JH's suggestions too and construct a sample entry. Once we see what comes out of that process, we can figure out how best to organize.

Hi everyone, it's Moira. Just want to support the "both-and" possibility Jonathan raises: I could envision a first page for the Wiki that briefly summarizes the purpose of the Glossary, then directs visitors to an alphabetized list of terms (as one choice) and/or a "filtered" list using modern terms. We could make explicit the filtering, and the many limits to this filtration process (i.e. the issues John has rightly raised). And this second list will probably always feel insufficient for the material we are bringing up--there might be a moment where we have to sigh and create a "Miscellaneous" section for terms that really don't work in any umbrella.

But along with Jonathan and Josh, I'm ready to roll up my sleeves with a particular word and see what happens when we all work on something specific. "Baraine" would be my own first choice--I've recently become interested in ways this term can encompass infertility, purposeful avoidance of pregnancy, and spiritual sterility. Would everybody be OK with this, if we go with the single-term plan? And are we thinking maybe something like mid-fall (Oct. 15?) for a deadline for this sample entry?

One more thing: Josh, I'd be happy to draft a preliminary statement of the glossary's purpose if you don't already have someone to do this. Just let me know either way. [MF]

Hi everyone, (It's Julie)
Sounds good to me! I am in favor of beginning work on specific terms. I would be happy to take "leprosy." I think that an alphabetical list/grid should definitely be a part of whatever format we ultimately decide on. Originally that was the only format I had thought of. But having heard everyone's points of view on our conference call -- I definitely think we should keep the "both-and" model of two navigation systems in play. There is inevitably going to be tension between wanting to be true to historical specificity and wanting to be accessible to those who aren't medievalists, who don't know, say, medieval Catalalan or synodal history and don't particularly care to. That's why I think a web-like, networked "map" of our glossary according to overarching problematics (or macro-terms or something) could be important (and we can certainly figure out the exact format later). Suppose someone who doesn't know what "lycanthropy" means used the glossary. S/he could easily skip right over the word if it was only available in an alphabetical listing. S/he would miss the way that word troubles the modern categories of mental illness or congenital conditions, etc. So, my sense is that we should have one navigation option that allows maximal freedom to our users (alphabetical listing of all words, etc.) but also another interface that both invites in users who might have an interest or a background in more modern concepts (depression, mental illness, mobility, chronic pain), empowers them to explore that modern concept in a medieval context, and reveals in process how that concept is transformed when it's examined in the Middle Ages. Some of the same issues might be in play (the relationship between the body and the built environment, for instance; or the relationship between anatomy and prosthesis) but it "means differently" in the medieval setting. I think our texts would ideally foreground this "meaning differently."

I am fine with a mid-fall due-date and would appreciate Moira writing a draft of our introductory description :)

[JE] This all sounds good to me. I've become very interested in mental illness and would like to take on "wode" if nobody objects. I don't want to take that away from you, Moira, if you were looking forward to that one, as I know you've done some work on it in the past.

October 15th seems like a good target to shoot for.

Moira, I think it would be terrific if you wanted to draft the preliminary statement, and many thanks for volunteering!

As to the navigation, I share the opinion that we will want a variety of options, and I think our way will become clearer as we begin to craft our entries. Above all, as so many of you have already said, I think we will want to show through our apparatus the "messiness" and complexity of these terms. They don't fit into pre-determined boxes, even though we sometimes need modern constructs to think through the variety of medieval meanings. In this way, I think our glossary might have much to contribute to modern disability studies, which seems to me to fix definitions and meanings (or to attempt to do so) very swiftly.

[MF] Josh, definitely go for "wode"--I'd like to move in a new direction by way of "baraine." But I will look forward to mulling over your definition--and I bet Wendy Turner would have some interesting contributions to make as well. Julie, your hypothetical site visitor scenario really clarifies my sense of how the glossary could facilitate important conversations among both academics and "civilians" from various backgrounds and disciplinary perspectives--thanks! Meanwhile, I'll try to get some preliminary (and I do mean preliminary) material out by Oct. 1--stay tuned...

[JE] Okay, from what I can see, then, we have the following list:

Me: wode
Moira: baraine
Julie: leprosy
Jonathan: blindness or deafness

John, Will, and Valeria--what terms do you want to start with? I ask this and am hoping we get to see an entry for "lycanthropy."



[KT] May I take depression?


[JH] OK I'll go ahead and claim "blindness." (Can save "deafness" for later, or for someone else down the line...)

[JE] 2/12--Hi everyone--I'm going to try to build up our sub-term page for mental illness by exploring the Middle English "melancolie."

[MF] 3/6 I'd like to take "crepel" if that's OK...