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Semantics of intellectual disability

, muteness and mental disability were excluded from the category ‘defect’. 9 Note the emphasis on physical condition as defect, and further note that (most) mental disabilities have no physical, visible markers – Down syndrome being the obvious exception to ratify the rule. The problem with this analysis is that, as so often, the modern historian conflates mental disability with mental illness, so that the term ‘mental disability’ might more accurately be rendered ‘psychiatric disorder which functionally renders the affected person disabled’. Mental disability is thus

in Fools and idiots?
Natural science and intellectual disability

functionality rather than aetiology. Therefore, Clarke surmised, not just persons with what we now call ID would have been classed as fatui naturales , but also ‘numerous cases of congenital deafness, poor vision (not then corrigible), speech defects, spasticity and other physical handicaps, some epilepsies and some schizophrenic withdrawals and other eccentricities’; the argument being that in the absence of modern educational, rehabilitative or other therapeutic interventions these conditions, whether in isolation or in combination, ‘would preclude adequate social learning

in Fools and idiots?
Laws and intellectual disability

customary law). Civil law, being concerned with a person’s ability to account for their actions – the question of culpability – in criminal cases, and equally concerned with the ability of an individual to administer property – testate, inherit – allows the modern researcher to gain a quantitatively valuable picture of medieval ID. Differentiation appears to be the key concept throughout medieval legal texts. All of these sources refer to a range of mental conditions and afflictions, in particular the distinction between intellectually disabled from birth and becoming

in Fools and idiots?
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Problems of definition and historiography

usually classified very differently to murder. Once a child is older however, no matter how “defective” they may be, killing them is impossible’. 28 Some general observations from ethnology were summarised in a survey from the 1990s of more than twenty different cultures worldwide. The authors had looked at mental disabilities, primarily noting that in the understanding of many cultures the interpretation and differentiation of what modern Western society tends to call mental disability/learning difficulty would also include speech defects and

in Fools and idiots?
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The Dunsoete Agreement and daily life in the Welsh borderlands

can glimpse through the Dunsæte Agreement is, of course, not a multicultural utopia – cattle theft appears rampant, there is distrust between neighbours, and provisions for the amount of wergild due ‘Gif Wealh Engliscne man ofslea’ (if a Welshman were to slay an Englishman) or vice versa hint at violence far darker than cattle rustling.14 Yet at the same time, the Dunsæte Agreement reveals a community that worked together to solve its problems, had a system of legal rights and responsibilities for all its members, and possessed a functional level of both linguistic

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
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’s attributes in reference to a discreet and stable territorial state. 8 In spite of this emergent isolationism, English notions of ethnicity did not, as so often in medieval and modern societies, result in some assertion of a ring-fenced racial purity. The cultural and political constructions of ethnic identity in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of the early Middle Ages may have subscribed quite forcefully to a notion of exclusive ethnogenesis, in which self-identification with continental Germanic ancestors became the means of differentiating the dominant

in Immigrant England, 1300–1550

tower-house-type structures. As has been discussed, sometimes confusing terminology is employed to skirt categorisation issues. This pattern of enthusiastic building also transcends space – differences in urban and rural architecture have been repeatedly discussed in a late medieval English context (for example, see the brief summary in Grenville ( 2008 )) – but tower houses are common to both environments in Ireland. There must have been something universal in their appeal and functionality. Even if most boroughs remained rural in essence

in The Irish tower house
Enigmas, agency and assemblage

Germanic etymological sense. Is something like the Franks Casket similar, therefore, to an assembly such as the seventh-​century Synod of Whitby, in which different elements are brought together and remade? I connect this notion of assemblage with Daston’s thing-​making whereby the ‘tension’ between chimerical composition and unified whole means that talkative things ‘instantiate novel, previously unthinkable combinations’.4 Even though a casket may be like a meeting in its ability to gather, the very thingness of a whalebone chest differentiates it from meetings of the

in Nonhuman voices in Anglo-Saxon literature and material culture
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Roads and writing

translate, and that hold only for certain regions, certain conditions and certain periods. We recognize that the term ‘road’ is not precise enough to differentiate the concept sufficiently in accordance with huge fluctuations in physical anatomy and jurisdiction. Yet we still need the particular universality of the term, for its generality allows us to make meaningful, if qualified, comparisons between then and now. One important terminological distinction still current is that between (rural) road and (urban) street, where a road passes from one place to another while a

in Roadworks

. Narrative came to be seen as a process or act rather than an object, which paved the way for ethical criticism, reader-response theory, and, based on the various possible identities of authors, readers, and characters within a narrative, post-colonial, gender and feminist narratologies.5 These approaches also turn from macro-structure to the small, detailed, specific elements in narrative texts that create meaning on a narrower plane. As part of the so-called ‘pragmatic shift’, structure is regarded as functional not only within the narrative text itself, but also as

in The Scottish Legendary