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Durham University

Centre for Medical Humanities

Call for Papers

Keynote Speaker: Professor Stuart Murray, School of English and Centre for Medical Humanities, University of Leeds

Panel of Academic Publishers:

Professor Martyn Evans, Centre for Medical Humanities, Durham University

Professor Brian Hurwitz, Centre for Humanities and Health, King’s College, London

Dr Deborah Kirklin, Editor of BMJ Medical Humanities journal, University College London

Medical Humanities is a growing interdisciplinary field, comprising both the humanities and social sciences that aims to contextualize, criticise and complement medicine as a human and social practice. Medical Humanities highlight the role of experience, both of patients and professionals, as well as the patient-health professional relationship. They draw attention to the social context of illness and disability and they value subjective experience as a source of legitimate knowledge. In Medical Humanities experience and relationships are seen as central to human flourishing, health and healthcare while scientific approaches to their understanding alone are considered inadequate. Social science research, literary studies, the arts and philosophy can all help explore, understand and support human flourishing.

This two-day conference aims to bring together postgraduate researchers whose interests relate to the medical humanities in order to explore interdisciplinary perspectives on, and ways of researching, health, illness and human flourishing. The conference will enable postgraduates to build networks and collaborative relationships for the future. The panel on academic publishing ensures that this conference will provide crucial information and advice for researchers at the beginning of a career in medical humanities.

Abstracts of 250 words for 20 minute papers are invited. Topics might include (but are not limited to):


role of arts in human flourishing; illness narratives; representations of health conditions in art and literature; literature and art as sources of understanding experience of physical and mental illness, disability, health care and medical practice

Medical Practice and Education

use of literature/art in training health professionals; literature and art as (alternative) therapy; narrative therapy; the role of spirituality in medical practice; the history of medicine; qualitative research and ethnography in health settings; ethics of care; empathy; relationships in healthcare.

Embodied Cognition

the mind-body split in medicine and its effect on our understanding of what it is to be human; questions of selfhood in mental health/neurodegenerative diseases; the normal and pathological in human experience; neuroscience and philosophy of medicine.

Please address all abstracts or queries to the conference organisers Rebecca Bitenc and Dr Naomi Marklew at

Deadline for abstracts: 18 February 2013