Conference Schedule

All sessions of the conference will be held in :

Thompson Room,
Barker Center 110
12 Quincy Street, Cambridge MA


Registration 8:00-9:00

Opening remarks: 9:00

Session 1: Medieval Ireland

Chair: Patrick McCoy

9:15-9:45: Elizabeth Gray, Harvard University. Myth, Medicine, and Motives for Murder: Dían Cécht and his Son Míach in Cath Maige Tuired.

9:45-10:15: Ilona Tuomi, University College Cork. Presenting the Remedy which Dian Cécht Left with his Household – the Situational Nature of an Old Irish charm

10:15-10:45: Deborah Hayden, Maynooth University.  A Medieval Irish Collection of Medical Poems.

Break: 10:45-11:00

Session 2: Germany and the Germanic diaspora

Chair: Katherine Leach

11:00-11:30: Chiara Benati, Universita degli studi de Genova. The blood-staunching charms in Lucerne, ZHB, Pp 27 4to and its medieval Germanic antecedents.

11:30-12:00: Patrick J. Donmoyer, Pennsylvania German Heritage Center. Of Warts and Waning: Perspectives on transference and transliteration in Pennsylvania’s ritual healing traditions.

12:00-12:30: Natacha Klein Käfer, Freie Universität Berlin. Immigrant rituals: German charms in immigrant communities in Southern Brazil and Pennsylvania.

Lunch: 12:30-2:00

Session 3: Early Medieval Insular Charms

Chair: Heather Newton

2:00-2:30: Emily Kesling, University of Oxford. Learned languages in insular charms.

2:30-3:00: Karel Fraaije, University College London. The regenerative womb of Mother Earth: Unearthing the metaphorical language of healing and fertility in the Old English ‘metrical charm’ for unfruitful land.

Break: 3:00-3:15

Session 4: Doctrine and Practice

Chair: Shireen Hamza

3:15-3:45: Abhimanyu Kumar, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Healing and the Healers in the Vinaya Piṭaka and in the Jātaka Narratives.

3:45-4:15: Béatrice Delaurenti, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. Medieval healing charms between doctrine and practices.

Break: 4:15-4:30

KEYNOTE: 4:30-5:30 Jacqueline Borsje, University of Amsterdam.

‘Lettering down’ formulae and anatomic lists in verbal remedies for fevers and headache: a long-term and broad perspective

Reception to follow, Kates Room, Warren House
Saturday April 7, 2018

Session 5: The Power of the Word in the Middle Ages

Chair: Gregory Darwin

9:00-9:30: K. A. Laity, College of Saint Rose. Good Vibrations: medieval community & healing sound.

9:30-10:00: Katherine Hindley, Nanyang Technological University. The healing power of destruction in medieval England.

10:00-10:30: Isabel de la Cruz-Cabanillas, University of Alcalá. Verbal magic and healing charms in GUL Ms Ferguson 147.

Break: 10:30-10:45

Session 6: Contemporary Ireland

Chair: Natasha Sumner

10:45-11:15: Fiona Shannon, Trinity College Dublin, Astrid Sasse, Trinity College Dublin, Michael Heinrich, University College London, Helen Sheridan, Trinity College Dublin. Traditional knowledge and folkloric practices in 1930s Ireland.

11:15-11:45: Bairbre Ní Fhloinn, University College Dublin. Folk medicine in Ireland today: recordings from a Midlands town.

11:45-12:15: Barbara Hillers, University College Dublin. ‘Joint to Joint and Sinew to Sinew’: The second Merseburg charm in Gaelic tradition.

Lunch: 12:15-1:30

Session 7: Women and childbirth

Chair: Elizabeth Gipson

1:30-2:00: Sara Ritchey, University of Tennessee. Charms as text and act: Verbal efficacy and the performance of therapy in women’s religious communities.

2:00-2:30: Anna Andreeva, Heidelberg University. Talismans for safe pregnancy and childbirth in medieval Japan.

2:30-3:00: Ailie Kerr, Harvard University. Magical formulae: breast-milk in medieval Denmark

3:00-3:30: Sara Verskin, Rhode Island College. “No Harm Except Your Harm and No Benefit Except Your Benefit”: Islamizing healing objects in medieval Muslim literature.

Break: 3:30-3:45

Session 8: Twentieth Century Charm Collecting

Chair: Ailie Kerr

3:45-4:15: Ross MacFarlane, Wellcome Collection. Edward Lovett and the collecting of medical charms in early 20th century London.

4:15-4:45: Ignacio D. Arellano-Torres, Stony Brook University. The friar against the jaibana.

Break: 4:45-5:00

KEYNOTE: 5:00-6:00: Richard Kieckhefer, Northwestern University.

For Better or for Worse:  When Magical Healers in the Late Medieval West were Charged with Magical Harm”

Dinner: 6:30 at the Maharaja Restaurant


Sunday April 8, 2018

Session 9: Medieval Medical Charms

Chair: Heather Newton

9:00-9:30: Eleonora Cianci, University of Chieti-Pescara. Three brothers in the mirror.

9:30-10:00: Meg Leja, Binghampton University. The charms of the saints and the attraction of herbs: Prescriptions for health in the early Middle Ages

10:00-10:30: Arsenio Ferraces-Rodríguez, University of Coruña. The precationes of a medical recipe book from the 6th-7th century

Break: 10:30-10:45

Session 10: History of Medicine

Chair: Katherine Leach

10:45-11:15: Dr. Walton Shalick, University of Wisconsin. Wonder Water: A marvelous charm of medieval medicine.

11:15-11:45: Adam Komorowski, Sang Ik Song, University of Limerick. A politics of the senses: the political role of the King’s-Evil in Richard Wiseman’s Severall Chirurgicall Treatises.

11:45-12:15: Alexander Chase-Levenson, University of Pennsylvania. “And so, I was purified”: Performing the Magic of Quarantine in the Early Nineteenth-Century Mediterranean.

Break: 12:15-12:30

Session 11: The Twentieth Century and Beyond.

Chair: Gregory Darwin

12:30-1:00: Jack Montgomery, Western Kentucky University Libraries. From Tobies to Nation Sacks: the role of the magical charm in the practice of Carolina Low-Country “Hoodoo.”

1:00-1:30: Daniel Frim, Harvard University. Shamanic healing and ritual authority in two Kwak’wala Nuyəm.

1:30: Closing Remarks

Monday April 9, 12:00-2:00

Tour of Houghton Rare Book and Manuscript Library, along with a specially curated exhibit of material related to the conference themes. Please RSVP to Kate or Gregory as soon as possible.