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"Reorienting Blindness: Theory and Practice in Medieval and Modern Media"

When Apr 13, 2016
from 03:30 PM to 05:00 PM
Where Grucci Room, 102 Burrowes Building
Contact Name

This presentation explores how current forms of digital media (such as digitized manuscripts, YouTube videos, and audiobooks) enable new modes of crafting disability history. Hsy takes as my “case studies” three medieval blind individuals: a court musician, a suburban seamstress, and a city poet. He considers what kinds of evidence give us access to lived experience of blindness, and explores how the social contexts of these historical figures has been revisited through present-day media. How do digital interfaces help us to better understand the physical and crosscultural dimensions of blindness in the medieval past? Can mediated encounters with the Middle Ages change how we think about disability in the present?

Jonathan Hsy is Associate Professor of English at George Washington University, where he is also founding co-director of the GW Digital Humanities Institute. He specializes in medieval literature and culture with interests in translation theory, digital media, and disability studies. He is the author of Trading Tongues: Merchants, Multilingualism, and Medieval Literature (2013), co-director of the Global Chaucers project, and his current book in progress explores life writing by medieval people who identified as blind or deaf. His publications on disability and digital media have appeared in Accessus, Cambridge Companion to the Body in Literature, New Medieval Literatures, the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, and postmedieval. He blogs at In The Middle, a group medieval studies blog.