Welcome

Ninon Dubourg is a doctor in Medieval History of the University of Paris (supervision: Didier Lett). Entitled “‘Ad obsequium divinum inhabilem’ The Recognition of the disabled person’s condition by the Papal Chancery (12th-14th century)”, her dissertation seeks to question the integration of disabled persons into the clergy and the secular society, but also the utility that the Church withdraws from going against the laws it has enacted. Documents from Vatican Archives’ petition and letter registers, between norms and practices, allow researchers to see how the disabled person, whether cleric or secular, relies on the institution of which she is part to frame her life – and, conversely, to capture the gaze of the institution on these people. She is a foreign associate member of the research network Homo Debilis at the Bremen University and a member of the Research Group Handicap et sociétés of the Réseau Jeunes chercheurs Santé et Sociétés at the EHESS. She is in charge of the research blog History of Disease, Disability & Medicine in Medieval Europe and the Co-organisator of the monthly seminar “Construire une histoire du handicap et de la surdité au travers des siècles” (Building a history of disability and deafness through the centuries) with Gildas Brégain (Rennes, CNRS) (2021-2022).

Ninon Dubourg est docteure en histoire médiévale de l’Université de Paris (direction : Didier Lett). Intitulé « ‘Ad obsequium divinum inhabilem’ La reconnaissance de la condition de personne infirme par la chancellerie pontificale (xiie – xive siècle) », le travail de thèse cherche à questionner l’intégration de personnes infirmes dans le clergé et dans la société laïque, mais également l’utilité que retire l’Église à aller contre les lois qu’elle a elle-même édictée. Les sources issues des registres de suppliques et de lettres des Archives du Vatican, entre normes et pratiques, permettent aux chercheurs de voir comment la personne handicapée, clerc ou laïque, compte sur l’institution dont elle fait partie pour encadrer sa vie – et inversement, de capter le regard que pose l’institution sur ces personnes.

Elle est également membre associée au réseau de recherche Homo Debilis de l’Université de Brême (Allemagne) et membre du Groupe de Travail Handicap(s) et sociétés du réseau Jeunes chercheurs Handicap(s) et Sociétés – EHESS, Paris. Elle est également gestionnaire du carnet de recherche hypothèse sur L’histoire du handicap, des maladies et de la médecine dans l’Europe médiévale. Son carnet souhaite promouvoir ce champ de recherche en France et en Europe et propose de veiller à partager les nouveautés éditoriales, les futures rencontres (conférences, colloque, journées d’études, tables rondes), mais aussi de relayer les appels à communication ou à contribution du handicap dans les sociétés pré-modernes, en se focalisant particulièrement sur l’époque médiévale. Elle est également la co-organisatrice du séminaire mensuel “Construire une histoire du handicap et de la surdité au travers des siècles” avec Gildas Brégain (Rennes, CNRS) (2021-2022).

Thesis

Titre : « Ad obsequium divinum inhabilem », La reconnaissance de la condition de personne infirme par la chancellerie pontificale (xiie – xive siècles)

Résumé : Les suppliques reçues et les lettres émises par la Chancellerie apostolique entre le xiie et le xive siècle attestent la reconnaissance de l’invalidité par l’institution pontificale. Elles actent l’existence d’une infirmité physique ou mentale et autorisent le suppliant à adapter ses missions de clerc ou de chrétien en fonction de ses capacités. Ces documents se situent à la frontière entre une parole institutionnelle et des sources de la pratique. La sollicitation provoque une intense et complexe production épistolaire, mettant en évidence les acteurs engagés dans ce processus – les individus invalides et les personnels curial et ecclésiastique. Elle dévoile les législations spécifiques à l’institution et entraîne une définition de l’infirmité par la Chancellerie pontificale, catégorisant les corps invalides selon leur condition physique ou mentale. Les réponses de la Curie, basées sur la tradition de compilation de cas similaires, connus par le droit et l’enregistrement, confirment la reconnaissance de la condition de personne infirme. Les suppliques et les lettres constituent ainsi un excellent laboratoire d’analyse pour étudier le handicap médiéval dans sa relation à la papauté comme institution.

Mots clefs : Handicap – infirmité – papauté – Chancellerie pontificale – suppliques – lettres – droit canon – identité – religiosité – clercs – laïcs – Chrétienté.

Book of hours, Arras ca. 1296-1311 Cambrai, BM, ms. 87, fol. 138r

Title: « Ad obsequium divinum inhabilem », The Recognition of the disabled person’s condition by the Papal Chancery (12th-14th century)

Summary: The petitions received and the letters sent by the Papal Chancery between the 12th-14th century attest the recognition of invalidity by the Papacy. They acknowledge the existence of a physical or mental infirmity and allow the supplicant to adapt his missions of cleric or Christian according to his abilities. These documents lie at the boundary between the institutional word and practical sources. Supplicant’s solicitations bring about an intense and complex epistolary production, whose main actors are the disabled individuals and the curial and ecclesiastical personnel. They reveal the specific legislation of the institution and lead to a definition of infirmity by the Papal Chancery, one that categorizes invalid bodies according to their physical or mental condition. Curia’s replies to solicitations, based on a case law system, constitute further evidence of the recognition of the disabled person’s condition. The supplications and letters thus constitute an excellent laboratory of analysis to study medieval disability in its relation to the Papacy as an institution.

Keywords: Disability – infirmity – Papacy – Papal Chancery – petition – letters – canon law – identity – religiosity – clerics – lay – Christendom.

Job experiences

Manager of the research blog Hypothèses History of Disease, Disability & Medicine in Medieval Europe.

Job experience

Since the 28th October 2019: European Projects Follow-up (administrative position at the Grant Office) at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris.

2018-2019 : Temporary teaching, Université Paris Diderot – Paris 7.

2015-2017 : Temporary teaching and research position (ATER) in medieval history, Université Paris Diderot – Paris 7.

2012-2015 : Recipient doctoral student of the l’École Doctorale Économies, Espaces, Sociétés, Civilisations (ED 382) at the Université Paris Diderot – Paris 7, laboratory ICT (Identités, Cultures et Territoires, EA 337) in medieval history under the supervision of Didier Lett (Université Paris Diderot – Paris 7).

Entitled “‘Ad obsequium divinum inhabilem’ The Recognition of the disabled person’s condition by the Papal Chancery (12th-14th century)”, my dissertation seeks to question the integration of disabled persons into the clergy and the secular society, but also the utility that the Church withdraws from going against the laws it has enacted. Documents from Vatican Archives’ petition and letter registers, between norms and practices, allow researchers to see how the disabled person, whether cleric or secular, relies on the institution of which she is part to frame her life – and, conversely, to capture the gaze of the institution on these people.

2010-2012 : Research master History – history of art, Antiquity – Middle Ages, Université Paul Valéry Montpellier III. Dissertation on Les clercs handicapés et infirmes au xiiie siècle, à travers les lettres de dispense d’Innocent III (1198-1216) et de Boniface VIII (1294-1303), defended in front of Julien Théry and Daniel Le Blévec.

Integration in international networks

Co-funder (with Gildas Brégain) of the Network of French-speaking researchers on history of disability and deafness.

Associate member of the research group Homo debilis. Dis/ability in Pre-Modern Societies, Bremen University.

Member of the network « Jeunes chercheurs Handicap(s) et Sociétés, Programme Handicaps et Sociétés », EHESS, Paris.

Mentee of the American Historical Association Committee on Disability, Disability History Mentorship program (mentor : Catherine Kudlick).

Organisation and coordination of scientific works

  • Co-organisation of the monthly seminar “Construire une histoire du handicap et de la surdité au travers des siècles” (Building a history of disability and deafness through the centuries) with Gildas Brégain (Rennes, CNRS) (2021-2022) ;
  • Help in the organisation of the seminar “corps empêchés” (impaired bodies) in Angers in the framework of the ANR Fil_IAM of Carole Avignon (2020-2021) ;
  • Presentation of the last works of Henri-Jacques Stiker around a meeting with the author, « Anthropologie et histoire du handicap », Université Paris Diderot – Paris 7, 22 March 2017 ;
  • Workshop Utiliser l’Histoire : regards croisés sur la discipline historique, Université Paris Diderot – Paris 7, 21 September 2015 (with Maria Podzorova) ;
  • Workshop Habiter : lieux de vie et façons de vivre. Une approche pluridisciplinaire du quotidien, Université Paris Diderot – Paris 7, 22 September 2014 (with Delphine Piétu and Maria Podzorova) ;
  • Conducting a survey of students enrolled in the first year of the degree in history and their representations of medieval and contemporary history, presented at the General Assembly of the Department of History, Université Paris Diderot – Paris 7, 20 February 2014 (with Delphine Piétu).

Outreach activities

  • Promotion of open science and research, by the production and responsible distribution of research datasets: Excel database downloadable online on my personal website.
  • Academic dissemination Skills (writing of an on-line section on “handicap” (disability) for undergraduate, graduate students and scholars on the French website Menestrel).
  • Implication in outreach Activities (Blog’s article on the physical and mental disability in the Middle Ages and its representation in the TV-show Game of Thrones on the blog “Actuel Moyen Âge” (Lived Middle Ages), 20 June 2019).
  • Participation in the “en direct du labo” (live from the lab) Twitter account to write threads about medieval disability and my research (audience 644,000), May 2019.

Formations

Fellow of the French School of Rome, November 2014 ; April 2016 ; April 2017;

Workshop Histoire et informatique, Textométrie des sources historiques, organised by the French School of Rome, Rome, 2-6 June 2014 ;

Training course in medieval diplomacy organized by the GDR (research group) 3177 “Diplomatique”, CNRS, in the National archives, Paris, 26-28 mars 2014.

Publications

Published works, as an author, a co-author or an editor (peer-reviewed)

1. Ninon Dubourg, Disabled Clerics in the High Middle Ages, Un/suitable for divine service?, Amsterdam University Press, series Premodern Health, Disease, and Disability, contract signed, manuscript due on the 31/08/2021.

2. Ninon Dubourg and Maria Podzorova (eds), “Utiliser l’histoire: regards croisés sur la discipline historique” (Using History: A cross-section of the historical discipline), Encyclo, Revue de l’École doctorale ED 382, 2018, n° 9, Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, Paris (online).

3. Ninon Dubourg, Delphine Piétu and Maria Podzorova (eds), “Habiter: lieux de vie et façons de vivre. Une approche pluridisciplinaire du quotidien” (Living: places to live and ways to live. A multidisciplinary approach to everyday life), Encyclo, Revue de l’École doctorale ED 382, 2016, n° 6, Université Paris 7, Paris (online).

Articles published in conference proceedings (peer-reviewed)

4. Ninon Dubourg, “Is Disability an Obstacle to Community Life in the Middle Ages? An Overview of the Main Issues in European Medieval Disability History”, in Handbook of Critical Disability Studies, S. Scalenghe and G. Reaume, volume on Disability History, Springer Nature, 2021 (by invitation, fortcoming).

5. Ninon Dubourg, “Updating medieval identity: bodily pain as a criteria in renewal of corporeality”, in Corporealities of Suffering. Dis/ability and Pain in the Middle Ages, B. Frohne and J. Kuuliala (eds), Amsterdam, University Press, Amsterdam (forthcoming);

6. Ninon Dubourg, “Un/Acceptable Disability? Defectus Corporis, Scandalum, and Pontifical Grace”, in Materializing Ugliness and Deformity in the Middle Ages, T. Artimon and A. Znorovszky (eds), Trivent Publishing, Budapest, (forthcoming 2021);

7. Ninon Dubourg, “Being a Leprous Cleric – In/ability to Hold a Benefice (xiiith and xivth centuries)”, in New Approaches to Disease, Disability and Medicine in Medieval Europe, collection Studies in Early Medicine, E. Connelly and S. Künzel (eds), Archaeopress, Oxford, 2018, p. 62-77;

8. Ninon Dubourg, “Deo iudicio percusset, l’idée de contamination d’après les suppliques et les lettres pontificales” (Deo iudicio percusset, the idea of contamination according to the petitions and pontifical letters), in Alter-habilitas. Perception of disability among people, towards the creation of an International Network of studies, S. Carraro (ed), Alteritas, Vérone, 2018, p. 89-114 (online);

9. Ninon Dubourg, “Being a Leprous Cleric: a social rejection? (xiiith and xivth centuries)”, in Dis/ability History der Vormoderne. Ein Handbuch – Premodern Dis/ability History. A Companion, C. Nolte, B. Frohne, U. Halle and S. Kerth (eds), Didymos, Affalterbach, 2017, p. 272-273.

Articles published in peer-review journals

10. Ninon Dubourg and Megan Katheb, “Témoignages médiévaux de la privation des sens. Empreintes matérielles de la cécité et de la mutité à l’époque médiévale” (Medieval evidence of sensory deprivation. Material traces of blindness and mute in the medieval period), in Valérie Delattre (ed.), Les Nouvelles de l’archéologie (by invitation of the special issue editor, forthcoming 2021);

11. Ninon Dubourg, “Position de thèse” (Thesis position), Alter, European Society for Disability Research, Vol. 14-3, Sept. 2020, pp. 226-235 (online behind paywall).

Articles published in conference proceedings (peer-reviewed)

12. Ninon Dubourg, “Marginalization on the Margins? Historical Perspectives on the Representations of Physical Disability in some Medieval Manuscript’s margins”, in L. Rozenberg and L. Scalabrella Spada, Permeable Bodies in Medieval and Early Modern Visual Culture, University College London Press (forthcoming);

13. Ninon Dubourg, “L’incapacité dans les lettres de dispenses pontificales: aller à l’encontre de la réglementation ecclésiastique médiévale pour franchir la clôture” (Incapacity in the pontifical letters: going against medieval ecclesiastical regulations to cross the enclosure), in A. Burkardt and A. Roger L’exception et la Règle, les pratiques d’entrée et de sortie des couvents, de la fin du Moyen Âge au XIXe siècle, Limoges, Presse universitaire de Limoges (under press);

14. Ninon Dubourg et alii, “Introduction: Utiliser l’histoire: regards croisés sur la discipline historique” (Introduction: Using History: A Cross-Review of the Historical Discipline), in N. Dubourg and M. Podzorova, “Utiliser l’histoire”, Encyclo, Revue de l’École doctorale ED 382, 2018, n° 9, Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, Paris, p. 9-14 (online);

15. Ninon Dubourg, “Aux origines du handicap à l’époque médiévale. Lectures d’une source historique, les dispenses pontificales aux xiiie et xive siècles” (On the origins of disability in medieval times. Readings from a historical source, the pontificalletters from the 13-14 centuries), in Travaux en cours, 2017, n°13, University Paris 7, Paris, p. 101-114 (online);

16. Ninon Dubourg et alii, “Introduction: habiter, lieux de vie et façon de vivre” (Introduction: living, where we live and how we live), in N. Dubourg, A. Piétu and M. Podzorova, “Habiter: lieux de vie et façons de vivre”, Encyclo, Revue de l’École doctorale ED 382, 2016, n° 6, University Paris 7, Paris, p. 9-14 (online);

17. Ninon Dubourg, “Émasculations cléricales, Itinéraires particuliers pour aborder l’identité du clerc émasculé (xiie-xve siècle)” (Clerical emasculations, Particular itineraries to approach the identity of the emasculated cleric (12e-15e c.)), in M.-L. Fieyre, “Itinéraires particuliers, identités singulières” (particular itineraries, singular identities), Encylo, Revue de l’École doctorale ED 382, 2014, n°4, University Paris 7, Paris, p. 89-101 (online).

Book reviews (reviewed by editors)

18. Ninon Dubourg, “review of Jenny Kuuliala, Saints, Infirmity, and Community in the Late Middle Ages, Amsterdam, Amsterdam UP, 2020” for the journal Le Moyen Âge, Revue d’histoire et de philologie, De Boeck Supérieur (forthcoming 2021);

19. Ninon Dubourg, “review of Miri Rubin (ed.), Modus Vivendi. Religious Reform and the Laity in Late Medieval Europe, Viella historical research, 19, Roma, Viella, 2020” for the Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique, Louvain Journal of Church History, Université catholique de Louvain – la Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (forthcoming 2021);

20. Ninon Dubourg, “review of Sara Ritchey and Sharon Strocchia (eds), Gender, Health, and Healing, 1250-1550, Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press, 2020” for the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, Oxford, Oxford University Press (under press);

21. Ninon Dubourg, “review of Florent Coste (ed), L’Inflammatorium pœnitentiæ. Le vice de l’acédie et les vertus de l’imagination, Genève, Droz, 2019”, for the Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique, Louvain Journal of Church History, Université catholique de Louvain – la Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 2021 (1-2), 116, p. 78-81 (under press);

22. Ninon Dubourg, “review of Alain Froment, and Hervé Guy, Archéologie de la santé, anthropologie du soin, Paris, La découverte, 2019”, for the Canadian Bulletin of Medical History, Vol. 37-2, 2020, p. 516-519 (online);

23. Ninon Dubourg, “review of Jenny Kuuliala, Childhood Disability and Social Integration in the Middle Ages: Constructions of Impairments in Thirteenth and Fourteenth‑Century Canonization Processes, Turnhout, Brepols, 2016”, for the journal Le Moyen Âge, Revue d’histoire et de philologie, De Boeck Supérieur, 2020/1 (Tome CXXVI), p. 194-197;

24. Ninon Dubourg, “review of Maud Ternon, Juger les fous au Moyen Âge dans les tribunaux royaux en France: xivexve siècles, Paris, PUF, 2018”, for the Canadian Bulletin of Medical History, spring/printemps 2019, Volume 36, Issue 1, p. 244-247 (online);

25. Ninon Dubourg, “review of Elizabeth W. Mellyn, Mad Tuscans and Their Families: A History of Mental Disorder in Early Modern Italy, Philadelphie, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014”, for the journal Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales, 2018, 73(2), p. 521-522 (online);

26. Ninon Dubourg, “review of Damien Boquet, Piroska Nagy, Sensible Moyen Âge, Une histoire des émotions dans l’Occident médiéval, L’Univers historique, Paris, Seuil, 2015”, for the journal Memini Travaux et documents, 2017, p. 22-23 (online).

Oral interventions

Communications at international symposia

  1. “Gender, old age, disability and religiosity. The intersectionality invoked by petitioners to contravene Christian prescriptions”, panel: Growing Old in the Middle Ages: A Gendered Perspective, I – Social Practices, 6-9 July 2021, International Medieval Congress of Leeds, Leeds (forthcoming);
  2. “Disabling Consequences of Illnesses on Clerics’ Recruitment in 1459, (Re-)Inclusion of Disabled People within the Church by Pius II”, Virtual conference ‘Reconsidering Illness and Recovery in the Early Modern World’, Funded by the Durham University Centre, 18-19 August 2020
  3. “Religiosity and Disability in the Papal Letters (13th and 14th centuries)”, Experiences of Dis/ability from the Late Middle Ages to the Mid-Twentieth Century Conference, 21-23 august 2019, Tampere University, Tampere (Finland);
  4. “The Canon Law’s Category of the Defectus Corporis and Scandal”, panel: ‘Deformis formositas ac formosa deformitas‘ II: Materializing Ugliness and Deformity in the Middle Ages, 2-4 July 2019, International Medieval Congress of Leeds, Leeds;
  5. Sicut Domino placuit ortus fuisti, disabled children’s births according to the Papal Chancery during the 13th century”, “Deviance: Aspects & Approaches”, Fifteenth Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference, 5-6 April 2019, University of Oxford, Oxford;
  6. “Marginalization on the Margins? Historical Perspectives on the Representations of Physical Disability in some Medieval Manuscript’s margins”, Permeable Bodies in Medieval and Early Modern Visual Culture, 5-6 october 2018, University College of London, London;
  7. “Les disability studies et la discipline historique: la disability history, état des lieux international et perspectives françaises”, panel: Comprendre les disability studies: une perspective croisée, Les désignations disciplinaires et leurs contenus: le paradigme des studies, 18-20 January 2017, Université Paris 13, Paris;
  8. “Expériences sociales dans un contexte institutionnel: Le latin utilisé par les clercs français pour décrire le handicap”, panel: Pre-modern Disabilities: Ambiguous Bodies, Texts, and Meanings, Society for French Studies 57th Annual Conference, 27-29 June 2016, Glasgow;
  9. “L’incapacité dans les lettres de dispenses pontificales: aller à l’encontre de la réglementation ecclésiastique médiévale pour franchir la clôture”, L’exception et la Règle, les pratiques d’entrée et de sortie des couvents, de la fin du Moyen Âge au XIXe siècle, 26-27 November 2015, Limoges;
  10. “Being a Leprous Cleric: In/ability to Hold a Benefice”, conference Disease, Disability & Medicine in Medieval Europe 8th Annual Meeting, Infection and Long-term Sickness, 6-7 December 2014, Nottingham Highfield House, Nottingham.

Discussions at international symposia

  1. Moderation of the panel Miracles and Metaphors, Conference Disease, Disability & Medicine in Medieval Europe 10th Annual Meeting, Disability and religion, 2-4 December 2016, Swansea University, National Waterfront Museum.

Interventions during seminars

  1. “L’expertise médicale légale dans l’évaluation des dommages corporels et mentaux par la chancellerie apostolique durant la période Avignonaise (1309-1378)”, Séminaire “Jeunes chercheur.euse.s Handicap(s) et Sociétés”, 3 March 2021, EHESS Paris (forthcoming);
  2. “In/capables d’assurer le service divin? Les requêtes des prêtres handicapés auprès de la chancellerie pontificale (13e-14e siècles)”, séminaire d’histoire intellectuelle et sociale du Moyen Âge, 29 January 2020, EHESS Paris;
  3. “La pertinence de l’utilisation du concept de “handicap” dans les études historiques”, seminar organised by Jean-François Ravaud and Isabelle Ville, Jeunes chercheurs handicap(s) et sociétés de l’EHESS, 22 March 2016, EHESS Paris;
  4. “Bilan historiographique sur le handicap et les infirmités au Moyen Âge”, seminar organized by Didier Lett, Famille, parenté et genre au Moyen Âge (xiie-xve siècles), 7 December 2015, Université Paris Diderot;
  5. “Le corps mutilé, vieillissant ou malade comme créateur d’identité. Au croisement de trois notions: corporalité, individualité et handicap”, thematic and methodological seminar Questions de corps coordinated by Florence Gherchanoc, 16 October 2014, Université Paris Diderot;
  6. “La masculinité des clercs”, seminar organised by Didier Lett, Famille, parenté et genre au Moyen Âge (xiie-xve siècles), 26 November 2013, Université Paris Diderot.

Interventions during workshop

  1. “Approches de la construction identitaire cléricale par l’émasculation: entre désirs coupables ou consommés et incapacité canonique (xiie-xive siècles)”, organised by the GRER/SAGEF/PEFH, Genre, ‘race’ et handicap, Vivre ensemble dans la sphère publique, Université Paris Diderot, 10 March 2017;
  2. “Aux origines du handicap médiéval dans les lettres de dispense pontificales (xiiie-xive siècles)”, 9è rencontres doctorales de Paris-Diderot Origine/Origines, 9-10 June 2016, Université Paris Diderot;
  3. “Trois itinéraires pour aborder l’identité du clerc émasculé (xiiie-xve siècle)”, organised by Encyclo, Revue de l’ED 382, Itinéraires singuliers, identités plurielles, 22 February 2013, Université Paris Diderot.