In the insightful post below, Julia mentioned that her scholarly interest in death, disease, and burial might make her seem psychopathic. My interests often lie in the realm of torture, suffering, and pain, which also makes me seem a bit psychologically weird. I love working on saints, especially the virgin martyrs, who often experienced horrifying tortures.
I don’t actually think very often about why these particular areas interest me, but upon brief self-reflection, I think one of the attractions of studies such as these is the distance at which they lie from our comfortable modern lives in which we often come into very little contact with anything discomforting or painful. I am especially interested in the connection between religious belief and people’s willingness and even desire to suffer. Certainly, we see this even today, but I do see something exotic and other in suffering. I don’t think it’s merely the difference that draws me to this study, though.
There is something at stake in studying the uncomfortable parts of human life. If we can understand for what reasons medieval people purposefully suffered, perhaps we can learn something about the human psyche, even about our modern minds that are seemingly so remote from the medieval.