Religious Melancholy. An Interdisciplinary Conference
19-20 May 2011
King’s College London

“Sickness and sorrows come and go, but a superstitious soul hath no rest”
– Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy

To date there has been no opportunity for scholars to contribute to an interdisciplinary dialogue on this important area of human suffering. The aim of the conference, therefore, is to open up a new panorama, illuminating the importance of religious melancholy across a number of key historical periods and amongst a range of religious ideologies and beliefs. We will be considering such melancholy from its classical origins to the modern period, with speakers drawn from theology and religious studies, history and history of medicine, philosophy, sociology and European and English literature. Although the main focus of the conference will be religious melancholy in various Christian sects, it will also consider demonstrable influences from other religions – two speakers, for example, will be discussing the impact of ideas from medieval Islamic medicine.

Importantly, the conference will ask questions about whether religious melancholy in the sense of spiritual or emotional despair might have a central place in our contemporary understanding of depressive illness.

The conference will be an intimate one, consisting of plenary papers and discussion. Places are very restricted. Please see the website for details of how to register your interest.


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