The Blood Conference:
Theories of Blood in Late Medieval and Early Modern
English Literature and Culture
St Anne’s College, Oxford: 8th –10th January, 2014
Convenors: Laurie Maguire, Bonnie Lander Johnson, Eleanor Decamp
Blood in the medieval and early modern periods was much more than simply red fluid
in human veins. Defined diversely by theologians, medics, satirists and dramatists, it
was matter, text, waste, cure, soul, God, and the means by which relationships were
defined, sacramentalised and destroyed. Blood was also a controversial ingredient in
the production of matter, from organic and medical to mechanical and alchemical.
Between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries debates about the nature and
function of blood raised questions about the limits of identity, God’s will for his
creatures, science’s encounter with the self, and the structure of families and
communities, and its impact was felt in artistic constructions on stage, in print, and on
This two and a half day conference will gather early modern and medieval scholars from
English, History, Art History and Medical History, to ask: ‘What is Renaissance blood?’
Plenary addresses by Frances Dolan (UC Davis), Patricia Parker (Stanford), Helen
Barr (Oxford) and Elisabeth Dutton (Fribourg).
Discussions will cover a range of topics including blood and satire, blood and revenge,
blood and gender, blood and genre, queer blood, royal blood, blood and wounding,
William Harvey, blood and race, blood on the stage, blood and witchcraft, blood and
alchemy, bloodlines, blood and sacrifice, blood and friendship, blood and disease, blood
The Blood Conference will feature a professional production of The Croxton Play of the
Sacrament directed by Elisabeth Dutton, and a session led by David Fuller, with the
help of Oxford singers, on early sacramental music and Eucharistic blood. Wellcome
Trust archivists will also be offering a session on blood material in their collection.
More speakers are now warmly invited. We are particularly interested in
interdisciplinary papers, and those with an emphasis on Art History and Medical
History. But any innovative approaches to historical blood are most welcome!
Please send a 500 word abstract to Micah Coston at firstname.lastname@example.org by
September 9th 2013.