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A workshop at The University of Adelaide


Image: Rudolf von Ems, Moses Changing the Water of the Nile into Blood (Ms. 33 (88.MP.70), fol. 73v, Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany​, about 1400–1410,​ Getty Museum​

Date: Monday 2 November 2020
Venue: Inkarni Wardli Level 7, The University of Adelaide
Call for Papers Deadline: Proposals for twenty-minute papers or panels of 90 minutes should be sent to katie.barclay@adelaide.edu.au by 15 May 2020.
Enquiries: katie.barclay@adelaide.edu.au

Download a copy of the Call for Papers


Blood flows through bodies, seeps outwards, transmits information across generations. Both as a product of bodies and as a symbol, blood has done significant work in the cultural imaginary. The blood that connects family — once marked by physical resemblance and now by DNA tests — has been critical to its boundaries, as well as to ideas of lineage and immortality. As an inherited quality, blood could be good, bringing noble qualities, or bad. For some eugenicists, blood was central to perfecting animals and humans. Early modern Europeans routinely consumed blood products, both human and animal; some sought its magical and life-giving properties for health and fortune. The blood of the king, and occasionally saints, was especially efficacious, able to heal those who came in contact. Blood relics were a significant devotional object. Modern medical practices reimagined blood; but blood transfusions and diseases remain significant to our interpretation of illness and its treatment – blood tests are a key mechanism of diagnosis, promising insight into the internal workings of the body. Menstrual blood in contrast was the taint of original sin; if its presentation on sheets could be used as a mark of ongoing chastity every month, it was also associated with woe and leaky, seepy bodies. Later, menstrual blood was marked by shame, something to be hidden, or ‘women’s business’, not for public consumption. The significance of blood can also be seen in its magical qualities. Blood when presented on a murder weapon, or marking a crime scene, enables a certain horror, as well as ample forensic evidence for an investigator. Vampires and other blood-sucking creatures were and are a key literary device, suggestive of the ongoing relationship between blood, mortality and longevity. Blood as an art form does significant ‘emotional work’ in guiding audiences.

This workshop invites speakers to consider ‘blood’ from any disciplinary perspective, time period or place, and from scholars at all stage of their career.

Proposals for twenty-minute papers or panels of 90 minutes should be sent to katie.barclay@adelaide.edu.au by 15 May 2020. We may pursue a publication afterwards if tenable.