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Durham University

Centre for Medical Humanities

Past Events

Rest and its discontents

Rest and its Discontents - Hubbub exhibition

Rest matters to everyone. Its presence, absence and quality affects mind, body, culture and society. Rest & its discontents explores the dynamics of rest, stress, relaxation, sound, noise, work and mindwandering in an evolving laboratory of moving image, performance, drawing, poetry, data, sound, music and debate.

Rest & its discontents features the work of over 25 contributors, including Nina Garthwaite’s radio for mind wanderers Default Mode Radio Network; Christian Nold’s audio installation and noise-monitoring network Prototyping a new Heathrow Airport; Tamarin Norwood’s video Sleep Studies I–V; and Patrick Coyle’s thirty-nine floating solar-powered objects alluding to the categories of labour prohibited on the Sabbath.

Rest & its discontents draws on Hubbub’s research and explores the art, science and culture of rest, stress, noise and mind-wandering. The exhibition is at Mile End Art Pavilion, and runs from 30 September – 30 October 2016. Opening hours 12.00-18.00, Tuesday-Sunday. Closed on Mondays. Late opening: Thursday 6 October, until 21.00. Admission is free.

Hearing the Voice is delighted to be participating in this year’s Durham Book Festival.

On Saturday 15 October, project director Charles Fernyhough will be discussing his recent book - The Voices Within: The history and science of how we talk to each other' - in which he explores the different voices in our heads: the kindly ones, the guiding ones, the voices of conscience and memory, and the sometimes terrible, sometimes beneficent voices of those who hear others speaking when there is no one around. The book has received wide critical acclaim, and a recent interview with US magazine Kirkus reviews can be found here.

Charles will be joined by HtV team members Angela Woods (Co-director) and Marco Bernini, who will introduce their own research into voice-hearing and discuss different aspects of our work at Hearing the Voice.

Please see the Durham Book Festival website for more information and to book tickets. Durham Book Festival will be held in various locations around the city of Durham from 7-16 October 2016.

The Practice, Benefits and Challenges of Interdisciplinarity: for postgraduate researchers (Durham University)

You are invited to take part in a two day workshop on the experience of interdisciplinary team working. The workshop will take place from lunchtime on Wednesday 22nd June to lunchtime on Thursday 23rd June at Durham University. It will be hosted by staff from Durham University’s Centre for Medical Humanities in collaboration with six early career researchers from around the UK who spent last year as members of our AHRC and Wellcome funded New Generations in Medical Humanities Group learning together about interdisciplinary team working in medical humanities.

Medical humanities is a dynamic field that critically engages with ideas, practices, policies and evidence relating to health, wellbeing, illness and disease. As such it embraces a wide disciplinary range of influences including those from the humanities, social science and science. The workshop will draw examples from medical humanities but will be open and relevant to postgraduates who are interested in interdisciplinary working from any field. Our approach will be about ‘how to do it’ and also give you insights about the benefits and challenges of developing a career that involves interdisciplinary work.

The workshop is supported by the Wellcome Trust and is fully funded, but availability, as well as residential places are limited. If places are oversubscribed we will make our choice of candidates based on the quality of your application but also our need to have a wide disciplinary mix of students. If you are interested in participating, please submit a 250-word statement that justifies why you should be selected to attend. This justification statement should include a brief description of your PhD research, your reasons for being interested in interdisciplinarity, and a confirmation that you are able to attend and have discussed this with your supervisors.

Please address your application to Professor Jane Macnaughton at the Centre for Medical Humanities, and submit it by the deadline of June 8th by email to Dori Beeler. After carefully reviewing the candidates, we will notify by email those that are selected by June 9th. Any applications submitted after the deadline will not be considered.

Centre for Medical Humanities/Wolfson Post-Graduate & Early Career Research Network

Sex, Gender and Health: Female Bodies / Trans Bodies / Male Bodies

Wednesday 15th June 2016, 4-5.30pm
The Williams Library, St. Chad’s College, Durham

Tea, Coffee and Cakes will be served!

The next meeting of the CMH Postgraduate / Early Career Researcher Medical Humanities Network will take place on Wednesday 15th June. This seminar will consider the gendered experience of illness and well-being, and the cultural understandings of experiences typically associated with the female body and the male body. We particularly welcome contributions reflecting on trans* and gender queer experiences of medicine and the body.

The session will begin with a number of short presentations from current researchers, before leading into an informal discussion. If you would like to deliver a presentation (around 5-15mins) please get in touch with Fraser Riddell by 30th May. We are keen to encourage researchers to share their work-in-progress.

CMH is able to provide a number of travel bursaries for postgraduates / ECRs attending from outside of Durham. Please let us know if you would like to benefit from this support when you register.

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Medical constructions of the female, trans and male body
  • The gendering of medical conditions (e.g. hysteria, infertility)
  • Reproductive health (e.g. contraception, family planning, menstruation)
  • Pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding
  • Abortion and miscarriage
  • Circumcision
  • Masculinity and reproduction (e.g. cultural understandings of fertility and vasectomy)
  • Gender, sexuality and access to healthcare
  • Sex and desire in the clinical encounter
  • The queer subject in medicine

New members are always very welcome! Please contact Fraser Riddell if you would like to attend.

Afterwar: Healing the Moral Wounds of War (Public Lecture, Durham Cathedral, Prior's Hall, June 7th 2016, 5pm)

Join us for the forthcoming talk by Georgetown philosophy professor Nancy Sherman: Afterwar: Healing the Moral Wounds of War. Nancy has consulted for the U.S. Armed Forces on issues of ethics, resilience, and post-traumatic stress, and published widely on ethics, military ethics and psychoanalysis. The focus of her talk will be on post-traumatic stress moral injuries and the nature of moral recovery.

Discussions often underplay the moral dimensions of psychological injuries and the attitudes that go with it--guilt, shame, moral disappointment, feeling responsible for doing wrong or being wronged or being complicit. She argues that psychology and medicine alone are inadequate to help with many of the most painful questions veterans are bringing home from war.

Respondent Michael Snape is inaugural Michael Ramsey Professor of Anglican Studies, Durham University, and a lay canon of Durham Cathedral. He was previously Reader in Religion, War and Society at the University of Birmingham, and is the official historian of the Royal Army Chaplains’ Department. He has published widely on religion and the experience of war in Britain and North America c.1700-1950, including most recently God and Uncle Sam: Religion and America’s Armed Forces in World War II (Boydell and Brewer, 2015).

There will be a drinks reception immediately following. Please contact Jane Abel to confirm your place. Download the poster for more information.

Breathing Pauses in Ancient Rhetoric, Virginia Woolf and Robert Musil (Symposium, IAS Durham, 6 June 2016)


Join Dr Stefanie Heine (University of Toronto) in Durham at the Institute of Advanced Studies to explore how breathing pauses convey rhythm in both the spoken and written word by comparing and contrasting ancient rhetoric with the work of early 20th Century modernist writers Robert Musil and Virginia Woolf. The prose rhythm demanded by the ancient rhetoricians is structured by intervals, where the most crucial interval, the full stop, should be marked by a breathing pause. While the rhetoricians discuss breathing in the context of verbal delivery, Woolf and Musil use especially careful composition to highlight intervals for breath in the body of their texts. This symposium takes place on Monday June 6th from 5pm - 7pm. It is free to attend and refreshments will be provided. All welcome, no need to register.

Breathing in context: historical and cross-cultural perspectives on breath

Tuesday 8 March @ 11:00 am - Wed 9 March @ 4:00 pm
Joachim Room, College of St Hild & St Bede, Durham

Followed by:

No Smoking Day Lecture: Weds 9 March @ 5:00pm Room ER 142 Elvet Riverside followed by drinks reception @ 6:00pm

‘A Tobacco Free New Zealand by 2025? Reflections of a frontline activist’ - Dr Marewa Glover, Massey University, New Zealand


Breath, a physiological universal, is uniquely both an automatic and controllable process at different times; it is also a subjective experience, an elaborated technique, and a fundamental part of knowledge systems and world views. Breathing is interactive and offers a mode of relating to the world, engaging with others, objects, environments, and technologies. Crucially, the significance and meaning of breath varies according to the context in which it is understood and enacted. Yet breath is a theme seldom considered in anthropological or cross-cultural research, despite the implications this could have in comprehending just what breath is, and what it means to live and breathe. This interdisciplinary two day symposium, organised by the Centre for Medical Humanities and Anthropology Department at Durham University as part of the Life of Breath project, offers an exciting platform to explore, discuss and gain insight into the perception and experience of breath and breathing practices both historically and cross-culturally.

Guest speakers will include;

The full programme is available here -

Register to attend

Affiliates' Lunch Meeting: December 10th St Chad's College 12-2pm

We are delighted to announce that the speakers for our next Affiliates' Lunch meeting will be Dr Patrick Zuk (Music) and Dr Michael Mack (English). Patrick will give an overview of his recent work on music and trauma. Michael will present a paper entitled “On Scandal: The Wound of Pasolini”, based on his forthcoming book Contaminations, developing a theory of contamination out of the Italian film-maker’s usage of the term scandal.

A buffet lunch will be provided. All are welcome, so please do extend the invitation to colleagues you think might be interested. Please contact Jane Abel if you would like to attend.

CMH/WRI Postgrad/ECR Meeting

Wednesday 2nd December 2015, 4-5.30pm, The Williams' Library, St. Chad’s College, North Bailey, Durham

Topic: Mental Illness and Mental Wellbeing

The next meeting of the CMH Postgraduate / Early Career Researcher Medical Humanities Network will take place on Wednesday 2nd December, 4-5.30pm. This meeting of the postgrad/ECR medical humanities discussion group will examine some of the various dimensions of mental illness and mental wellbeing within the medical humanities and related disciplines. Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Stress
  • Depression and melancholia
  • Mental capacity
  • Stigma relating to mental illness
  • Cultural constructions of madness
  • Personality disorders
  • Mindfulness
  • Artistic practice and mental wellbeing
  • Free time and mental health

The meeting will open with a number of short presentations and then lead into a wider discussion about the issues raised. We are looking for two or three volunteers to provide an informal opening presentation on an aspect of their research which speaks to the theme of this session (5-8 minutes). Please reply to Fraser Riddell ( if you are interested in presenting and in order to register your attendance. Tea/coffee and cakes will be provided.

We look forward to seeing you there - new members are always very welcome!

GoHWell, Hubbub, Centre for Medical Humanities Seminar
November 18th
W007, Main Geography Building

Members of Hubbub will be joining with colleagues in the Department of Geography and Centre for Medical Humanities to share details of research carried out by the group in the first year of its residency in The Hub at Wellcome Collection, as well Hubbub's plans for the future.


13.30 - start

  • Hubbub: Rethinking Interdisciplinarity across the Social Sciences, Neurosciences, Humanities and the Arts - Dr Felicity Callard – Reader in the Department of Geography, Hubbub Director
  • Near Sensing, Moving Bodies, and Built Space - Dr Josh Berson Anthropologist, Hubbub Collaborator
  • The quest for a quieta mens - Dr Hilary Powell Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Geography, Hubbub Collaborator

14.30-14.45 - break (refreshments available)

  • Reflections on ‘What’s wrong with work?’ - Dr Lynne Friedli – Mental Health & Inequalities Researcher, Hubbub Collaborator
  • The Peckham Experiment: Documents, Fiction and the Archival Imaginary - Dr James Wilkes – Senior Researcher in the Department of Geography, Hubbub Associate Director

15.45 - close of seminar (wine and canapes)

Hubbub is an international collective of social scientists, artists, humanities researchers, scientists, broadcasters, public engagement professionals and mental health experts. We explore the dynamics of rest, noise, tumult, activity and work, as they operate in mental health, the neurosciences, the arts and the everyday. We are based in London as the first residents of The Hub at Wellcome Collection from October 2014 to July 2016.

Kimberley Staines, Hubbub Project Coordinator, can be contacted for more information.

Medical Humanities: Postgraduate/ ECR Networking Event

26 October 2015, 6.00pm

All welcome
Free wine, soft drinks and snacks will be provided.

Durham University’s Centre for Medical Humanities (CMH) would like to invite you to a networking event for postgraduates and early-career researchers interested in the medical humanities.

While the event will primarily be an informal chance to meet other students and researchers, the session will aim to open up discussion by addressing the question: “What is the ‘medical humanities’ today?

Professor Jane Macnaughton (Co-Director of the CMH) will provide an introduction to the wide range of interdisciplinary research currently being carried out by the CMH.

We are particularly keen to welcome new students and researchers who have just commenced their work in Durham or other institutions in the North East. Anyone who wants to know more about this exciting field is welcome, even if it is not the principal focus of your research.

The CMH provides a vibrant interdisciplinary research environment for thinking critically about the human experience of health and illness. Current postgraduates/ ECRs have backgrounds in a diverse range of disciplines, from Anthropology to English, Geography to Philosophy. The CMH’s Wolfson Postgraduate/ ECR Research Network provides an ideal forum to build relationships and share ideas with researchers from across the university.

Attendance is free – but please email Jane Abel to register your attendance.

26 October 2015, 6.00pm
Senior Common Room, St. Chad’s College,
North Bailey, Durham, DH1 3RH

The CMH Wolfson Postgraduate/ ECR Research Network will be holding a series of research seminars and other events throughout the year. If you would like to be kept informed of upcoming events please email Fraser Riddell.

Centre for Medical Humanities – Affiliates’ Lunch

22 October 2015, 12-2pm

Our first Affiliates’ Lunch of 2015/16 will take place on Thursday, 22nd October, from 12-2 pm in the Birley Room, Hatfield College. This first meeting will be a brainstorming session in which we explore potential research directions for the Medical Humanities at Durham and possibilities for collaborative research and new projects. We are keen to involve Affiliates in shaping our research strategy for the next few years, and would very much like to have your ideas and input.

CMH Affiliates’ lunches are normally focused on an interdisciplinary theme of interest across a range of departments and comprise two short talks by colleagues from different disciplines, followed by discussion over a buffet lunch. If you have suggestions for themes for Affiliates’ Lunches in 2016, please feel free to contact Corinne Saunders.

To confirm your attendance on Thursday 22nd October please contact our administrator, Jane Abel. All are welcome, so please encourage colleagues who might be interested to come along. We look forward to seeing you there.

Making the invisible visible

Life of Breath Launch Event, Wed 23 September 3-6.30pm
in the Joachim Room at the College of St Hild & St Bede

We still have a few spaces and would be delighted if you could join us for this celebration. If you’d like to come please sign up here. It is shaping up to be a fascinating afternoon with a diverse range of speakers sharing their perspectives on breath interspersed with breath made visible through sound, speech and music. For more details, please download our invitation.

Sarah McLusky, Project Manager (Durham) for Life of Breath writes (as originally posted on the Life of Breath site):

What is breath? We all know what it feels like. We can perceive the rise and fall of the chest, the air moving in and out of our lungs, but unless it’s a frosty morning, we can’t see it. As well as being unseen, most of the time our breath is taken for granted, invisible. Perhaps the only time we pay attention to our breath is when we make demands of it – to speak, to sing, to power the body through exercise. We also become intensely aware of our breath, or rather the lack of it, when it isn’t working as it should, perhaps through illness or anxiety. The rest of the time our lungs quietly, imperceptibly, carry on with the business of keeping us alive, an invisible poem.

Invisibility is also a powerful metaphor for those with respiratory illness – their hidden symptoms, the gaps in our understanding, the lack of effective treatments, the stigma associated with breathlessness, the invisible suffering.[1]

Tackling this literal and metaphorical ‘invisibility’ is one of the main aims of the Life of Breath project. By exploring breathing and breathlessness from a number of different perspectives the Life of Breath project is tasked with ‘making the invisible visible’ (see ‘There is something in there‘).

Following on from the Bristol launch in May, Life of Breath at Durham University will be formally launched on Wednesday 23rd September 2015. In the splendid gothic surroundings of the Joachim Room at the College of St Hild & St Bede, a number of diverse project collaborators will share what breath means to them. First we will hear from Miriam Johnson, from Hull York Medical School, an expert on palliative care. Then artist Jayne Wilton will outline her work on visualising the breath. Durham colleague Charlotte Roberts will consider what human skeletal remains can tell us about breathlessness in the past, while fellow academic Peter Garratt explores the breath in literature. Finally James Edwards and Gaynor Williams, members of the Darlington Breathe Easy patient support group, will share what it is like to feel breathless.

These speakers will be framed by moments of reflection, breathing spaces if you will, encounters with the breath made visible through spoken work, sound and music.

Anyone with an interest in the project is welcome to join us at the event, although places are limited. If you would like to attend please register at


[1] Carel, H., Macnaughton, J., Dodd, J. (2015) Invisible suffering: breathlessness in and beyond the clinic, The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, 3(4): 278-279.

18th June 2015

‘Visual Culture in Medical Humanities’

Joint workshop with the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture - 18th June Van Mildert College, Durham 10-30 - 17-30pm

This one-day workshop is designed to explore the intricate connections between two dynamic fields and the ways in which fruitful collaborations could be set up between them. It will also invite participants to consider the question ‘where next?’ What research projects might we be able to nurture by paying attention to visual culture in medical humanities?

For more details click here. To register please click here

19th-20th March, 2015

'Brains in the Making' Workshop

Call for Participants for ‘Brains in the Making’, Durham University (19th and 20th March 2015)

Brains in the Making: emerging models, methods, and modes of working

Workshop 19th March 12:00 to 20th March 2015, 17:00, Holgate Conference Centre, Grey College, DH1 3LG

Organisers: Dr Felicity Callard, Dr Angela Woods (Centre for Medical Humanities, Durham University; Hubbub at Wellcome Collection; Hearing the Voice) and Dr Peter Garratt (Department of English Studies; Cognitive Futures in the Humanities)

30 places available to applicants – Register your interest here. Places for the workshop are limited and will be allocated to ensure the inclusion of a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Please note that Brains in the Making is a free workshop, but participants are expected to make their own arrangements for travel and accommodation. The deadline for registration is 20 February and successful applicants will be notified by 25 February at the latest. Priority will be given to individuals able to attend the full programme. All delegates will be invited to join the speakers of Brains in the Making at a complimentary dinner on 19th March. Lunch will be provided on both days of the workshop.

Brains in the Making emerges from existing synergies between three, large interdisciplinary projects led by Durham University: Hearing the Voice (HtV), the inaugural residency Hubbub at Wellcome Collection, both funded by the Wellcome Trust, and Cognitive Futures in the Humanities(CFiH) funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The workshop is supported by Durham University’s Institute of Advanced Study, andseeks to advance conceptual and methodological debates surrounding the ways in which other disciplines might and should work with the neurosciences.

What happens to methods of enquiry and to the objects of intellectual concern when researchers are entangled with one another in intense interdisciplinary exchange regarding the brain? And can such “entanglements” allow new modes of thinking and working to emerge – such that disciplinary expertise might be diffracted through researchers’ encounters with unfamiliar methods, modes of experimentation, and ways of conceptualizing key constructs?

Brains in the Making brings together researchers working at the critical cutting edge of the neurosciences with the goal of reflecting on and interrogating emergent models and methods, examining how they variously transform, disavow, encourage and/or close down existing “disciplinary” modes of thought and practice. Additionally, the workshop exemplifies the shared conviction that new areas of inquiry and ways of working do not emerge “out of nowhere”: they can arise through purposeful endeavour and creative, experimental practices that enable the collision of ideas that are not usually brought together.

Confirmed speakers:

  • Dr Ben Alderson-Day
  • Dr Felicity Callard
  • Dr James Carney
  • Professor Charles Fernyhough,
  • Dr Des Fitzgerald
  • Dr Peter Garratt
  • Mr Philipp Haueis
  • Ms Shona Illingworth
  • Dr Simone Kühn
  • Dr Karin Kukkonen
  • Mr Sam McLean
  • Professor Andreas Roepstorff
  • Professor Nikolas Rose
  • Dr Susanne Weis
  • Dr James Wilkes
  • Dr Angela Woods

Contact Kimberley Staines, Project Coordinator for Hubbub Group for more information about this event.

To confirm, the deadline for registration is 20 February and successful applicants will be notified by 25 February at the latest. Priority will be given to individuals able to attend the full programme. Information on accommodation options in Durham and directions to the Holgate Centre are available on the Durham University website. A detailed programme will be released shortly. Register your interest here.

18th September 2014

Portraits of Violence.

Durham Light Infantry Museum Art Gallery, 6-7:30 pm

Free event supported by the Centre for Medical Humanities, Durham University, and Wellcome Trust.

One of the most poignant innovations of the First World War was the production of portrait masks for severely disfigured servicemen: the surgical ‘failures’. In London and Paris, professional sculptors were responsible for the provision of these delicate masks: their results are recorded in the photographs of British home front photographer Horace Nicholls and in a silent film of Anna Coleman Ladd at work in her American Red Cross studio in Paris. Both sources docu-ment the artistry of prosthetic repair, and Nicholls’ images dramatize the psy-chological impact of facial mutilation – regarded by many to be the most dehu-manizing of injuries. Paradoxically, though, the juxtaposition of human face and portrait mask disturbs the equation of identity and appearance on which tradi-tional portraiture depends. Given the professed ‘death of the portrait,’ one might expect a different treatment of disfigurement today; a loosening of the convic-tion that appearance and identity are relatively fixed. Images from recent con-flicts do not bear this out, however, and the representation of disfigured veter-ans (indeed, disfigurement and disability of any sort) in the press and popular culture remains convention-bound. An exception is the work of American pho-tographer Nina Berman, whose portraits of veterans challenge the usual narra-tives of sacrifice, courage and redemption – including the fantasy of repair.

Suzannah Biernoff is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of History of Art at Birk-beck, University of London. Her recent writing pursues the themes of corporeal history and visual anxiety in the context of First World War Britain.

Please RSVP to CMH if you wish to attend. This event is free and open to all.

Download Lecture Announcement.

3rd July 2014

PAINTING PORTRAITS: challenges of being looked at, and of looking at disfigurement.

Durham Light Infantry Museum Art Gallery, 6-7:30 pm

Free event supported by the Centre for Medical Humanities, Durham University, and Wellcome Trust.

In association with the exhibition ‘War, Art and Surgery’ by Julia Midgley, the Booker prize winning author Pat Barker and Professor Jonathan Cole, a consultant neurophysiologist and author of The Invisible Smile: Living without Facial Expression, will present a lively evening of readings from their books and discussion about portrait painting in the context of injury and disfigurement. A focus will be the question ‘what is it like to have your portrait painted when you have lost or never had facial expression’. There will be an opportunity for the audience to ask questions and join in the discussion, as well as view the exhibition. This is a follow up from CMH’s successful exhibition in 2012, ‘About Face’, which featured the works of WWI artist Henry Tonks. We do hope you will be able to join us. The event will include a free opportunity to look round the exhibition which opens on 28th June.

The evening will conclude with a glass of wine and canapés with the authors. Visit the DLI website for directions, Aykley Heads, Durham DH1 5TU.

Please RSVP to CMH if you wish to attend. This event is free and open to all.

Download Lecture Announcement.

9th May 2014

Public Lecture: Prof Christine Jeffries Stokes and Annette Stokes from the Rural Clinical School of Western Australia

Williams Library at St. Chad’s College, 12.30pm

'Our People, Our Story, Our Way’ The Western Desert Kidney Health Project

This is an opportunity to hear about a unique and highly innovative renal clinic and health promotion project in one of the remotest parts of Australia. The Western Desert Kidney Health Project – launched in October 2010 – is a multidisciplinary team of Aboriginal health, medical and community development workers and artists aiming to reduce disease and diabetes in the vast Goldfields area. With the aid of two six-tonne ‘healthy lifestyle’ trucks, the project covers an area about the size of Great Britain populated by almost 8,000 people whose expected life-span is 17 years less than that of non-Aboriginal people. One vehicle is a mobile clinic for early detection of disease and chronic disease management, health promotion and evaluation; the other transports artists and healthy lifestyle workers who collaborate with the communities to create education stories about kidney health.

Ongoing action research targeted at 10 indigenous communities aims to determine the prevalence of type 2 diabetes and end stage renal disease, the prevalence of the risk factors for these diseases, the age at which those risk factors appear and to determine whether community education and development strategies, coupled with current recommended medical care can reduce the prevalence of these risk factors. The project team presents health promotion strategies to the communities using a community arts for community development model. The communities are then assisted with appropriate referrals and strategies to reduce the prevalence of these diseases and assist prevention.

The project is led by the two presenters of this talk. Christine Jeffries-Stokes is a paediatrician and medical researcher. She has been in the Goldfields for 20 years, working particularly in paediatrics and indigenous health. The project’s Chief Investigator is senior Wongutha woman Annette Stokes of The University of Western Australia’s Kalgoorlie-based Rural Clinical School. Annette is an awarded medical researcher as well as being a visual artist, community arts practitioner and musician. She has lived in the Goldfields all her life and holds a high level of cultural authority and respect. Christine and Annette are sisters-in-law and are accompanied on their UK visit by Christine’s husband Geoffrey, a respected elder and preacher of the Wongutha people.

Please RSVP to Christine Jawad if you wish to attend. This event is open to all.

Download Lecture Announcement.

8th May 2014

A Joint Centre for Medical Humanities & School of Modern Languages and Cultures Seminar and Roundtable Discussion

Birley Room Hatfield College, Durham, 12.00 – 2:00 pm

‘Sleep/Activity/Agency’ Chaired by Dr Caitríona Ní Dhúill and Dr Angela Woods

Prof Cressida Heyes (University of Alberta)
‘Sleeping Women, Wakeful Men: Gender, Rest, and Work’ 

Dr Felicity Callard (Durham University)
‘Rest: Crossing Brains, Minds, Bodies, Cities’

Dr Jenny Laws (Durham University)
‘A pro-active disposition: performing and practising active desire’

This roundtable discussion brings together three scholars working at the intersection of the humanities and social sciences. With reference to their new and ongoing research projects, Cressida Heyes, Felicity Callard and Jenny Laws will explore a constellation of terms ‘sleep, activity, agency’ through a variety of methods, modes of presentation, and theoretico-cultural frameworks. The discussion aims to trace new lines of contact and divergence between and across philosophy, gender and sexuality studies and medical humanities.

Lunch, tea and coffee provided. All are welcome, however we only have 25 places available and they will be allocated on a first come first served basis, registration is essential.

Please RSVP to Christine Jawad if you wish to attend. This event is open to all.

Download Lecture Announcement.

We also send out notification of our future events by email. If you would like to be added to our mailing list please send a request to

3rd-4th April, 2014

Invitation only: The Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities Workshop Programme

Holgate Conference Centre, Grey College

Funded by the Wellcome Trust.

4th April 2014

Public Lecture: Professor Jonathan Metzl

Arthur Holmes Lecture Theatre, Science Site, 5.30pm


'The Protest Psychosis: Race, Stigma, and the Diagnosis of Schizophrenia'

Misperceptions that persons with schizophrenia are violent or dangerous lie at the heart of stigmatizations of the disease. My talk tells the story of how these modern-day American conceptualizations of schizophrenic patients as violent emerged during the civil-rights era of the 1950s-1970s in response to a larger set of conversations about race. I integrate institutional, professional, and cultural discourses in order to trace shifts in popular and medical understandings of schizophrenia from a disease of white docility to one of “Negro” hostility, and from a disease that was nurtured to one that was feared. The first section tracks the medcalization of race and schizophrenia within a particular institution, the Ionia Hospital for the Criminally Insane. The second section contextualizes the Ionia case histories within shifting psychiatric definitions of schizophrenia. I focus on ways published case studies explicitly connected clinical presentations of African American men with the politics of the civil rights movement in ways that treated aspirations for liberation and civil rights as symptoms of mental illness. Finally, the thirdsection reads shifts in psychiatric nosology within changing American cultural concerns about black masculinity. Triangulating the historical connections between institutional forces, psychiatric practices, and civil-rights politics helps me grapple with some of the seemingly naturalized characteristics of present-day schizophrenia discourse—characteristics that often appear denatured of their explicit connections to race. These include cultural tropes of angry, homeless mentally ill persons, or findings demonstrating that persons with schizophrenia reside in prisons far more often than in psychiatric care facilities.

Professor Metzl is Director of the Centre for Medicine, Health and Society, Vanderbilt University.

Please RSVP to Christine Jawad if you wish to attend. This event is open to all.

Download lecture announcement

19th March, 2014

Workshop on Wonder

Kenworthy Hall, St. Mary's College, 9:15am-4:30pm


If it is a good thing to be alive, then is it not an intensely good thing to be intensely alive?

We might suppose that this depends on the nature and content of the intensity - or, better, on the nature and content of the intensified experience(s) in question. Some varieties of intensified experience readily suggest themselves: states of ecstacy - religious and otherwise; experiences of wonder; experiences of overwhelming beauty; and so on. Acknowledging that there may be aversive counterparts to such experiences (for instance, terror or despair), this symposium will concentrate primarily upon positive intensified experiences, with wonder prominent among them - and will raise questions of what might provoke such experiences, whether they are in any sense natural to us, and what their value might be.
Following an earlier symposium on Beauty and Wonder, the present symposium brings together colleagues from the Centre for Medical Humanities, with Fellows from the Institute of Advanced Study, in a series of short presentations, responses, and round-table discussions.

Please book your place on this workshop by clicking here.

16-17th January 2014

The Lantern Parade: A Conversation

Wolfson Research Institute, Queen's Campus.


The lantern parade is an occasion to view a community in another light. Sometimes it is a one-off event, but in many cases it becomes an annual celebration that generates narratives and traditions, leading to wider programmes of work that connect arts, health education and community development. Lantern imagery provokes wonder and engagement in community arts worldwide, and offers opportunities to explore the impact of participatory arts on community health and individual well-being.

We want the phenomenon of community lantern parades to be better theorised in an inter-disciplinary context that will support future collaborations, so our purpose in this two-day conversation is to engender opportunities for academics, community participants and arts and health practitioners to meet and work up outlines for further work and research. We hope you will join us in a congenial exploration of the meaning, value and purpose of lantern-making.

Our focussed conversation will be guided through three phases: ‘Framework’ (How do lantern parades evolve?), ‘Covering’ (How might we apply appropriate research methodologies?), and ‘Illumination’ (What might research discover that adds value to these events?). We will begin and end at lunchtime, and enliven our talk further with an informal dinner and a practical session.

This event will contribute to the Institute for Advanced Studies 2014 theme of ‘Light’.

RSVP: Mike White and Mary Robson, Centre for Medical Humanities, Caedmon Building, Leazes Road, Durham DH1 1SZ.

Please note that this event is now fully booked.

10th December 2013

CMH Seminar: Professor David Herman

Williams Library, St Chad's College, 5.15-7pm

'Transspecies Entanglements: Animal-Assisted Therapy in Narratives about the Intellectually Disabled'

After surveying work on the definition, history, possible mechanisms, and relative efficacy of Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA) and Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT), this presentation discusses how an expanded framework for inquiry — one that brings together ideas from transspecies anthropology, critical animal studies, disability studies, and narrative theory — can generate productive questions about narratives that portray animals as assisting children diagnosed with intellectual disabilities such as autism. I use several example narratives involving animal assistants to explore how understandings of the human/nonhuman boundary link up with constructions of the contrast between ability and disability, normality and abnormality.

Professor Herman is based in the Department of English Studies, Durham University.

Please RSVP to Christine Jawad if you would like to attend.


21st November 2013

CMH and WRI Seminar: Professor Sanjoy Bhattacharya

Birley Room, Hatfield College, 5-7pm


‘International Health and the Limits of its Global Influences: Bhutan and the Worldwide Smallpox Eradication Programme’

Professor Bhattacharya is Director of the Centre for Global Health Histories, at the University of York.

Please RSVP to Christine Jawad if you would like to attend.

20th November 2013

CMH Seminar: Dr Jules Evans

Senior Common Room, Trevelyan College, 5-7pm


'The Varieties of Ecstasy'

Dr Evans is a philosopher and author of works including 'Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations'

Please RSVP to Christine Jawad if you would like to attend.

4 – 5 November 2013

Critical Medical Humanities Symposium

Organisers: Felicity Callard, Will Viney, Angela Woods.

To be held at Durham University.


To mark the conclusion of Durham University’s Centre for Medical Humanities’ Wellcome Trust Strategic Award, we are hosting an intense, future-orientated and interdisciplinary symposium.

We invite 50 applicants to join us at Durham University for a special, two-day event, ‘Critical Medical Humanities’, a forum dedicated to new and emerging areas of interdisciplinary research. As well as offering an opportunity to meet with scholars working across the humanities and social sciences, the meeting will interrogate and reinvigorate concepts, practices, and institutions that shape our understandings of health, illness and embodied experience. Organised around five ‘critical’ areas, plenary sessions will open into working groups with opportunities to debate points of contention or agreement, and to discuss participants’ current and future projects.

Further details can be found here

24th October 2013

Centre for Medical Humanities Postgraduate Network - Welcome Lunch

Collier Room, College fo St Hild & Bede. 12.15pm for lunch; meeting to start promptly at 1pm.


Are you a postgrad or postdoc working in the field of health, illness, medicine or wellbeing? Would you like to join a cross-disciplinary group of early career scholars working in related areas?

The Centre for Medical Humanities invites all new and returnign postgrads and postdocs to a welcome lunch and introductory meeting on the 24th October 2013.

Existing members base their work in fields as diverse as English, Geography, Philosophy, Sociology, Anthropology, History of Medicine, Psychology, Theology and beyond. Typical network activities include reading groups, work-in-progress seminars/presentations, talks from external speakers and academic skills workshops (research methods, interdisciplinary publishing, research proposal writing etc.). The first meeting will be, in part, dedicated to designing a programme of activities for the year ahead.

For questions about the CMH group or to be added to the mailing list, please contact Dr Jenny Laws (network convenor).

For catering purposes, please confirm your attendance on the 24th to no later than 17th October.

16th October 2013, 10-3pm

Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities funding event

Penthouse Suite, Collingwood College, South Road, Durham. DH1 3LT


The meeting is to discuss the expansion of the Wellcome Trust’s Medical Humanities, Research Resources and Society and Ethics funding streams, now open to a wider range of applications from the humanities, the social sciences and the arts.

The Medical Humanities stream encourages bold and intellectually rigorous research applications that address important questions at the interface of medicine, health-related sciences, and the wider humanities, including the arts and social sciences.

The Society and Ethics stream supports research that examines the social and ethical aspects of biomedical research and health, with the aim of addressing tractable, real-world problems.

The Research Resources stream underpins research across the medical humanities and the social sciences by supporting cataloguing and preservation projects of significant primary source material in libraries and archives in the UK and Ireland.

 Opportunities will be available for one-on-one 'surgeries' to discuss individual projects with Trust staff. Each slot will be 15 minutes and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.


To book a surgery, please contact Catherine Syson specifying your preferred funding area.


Thursday 20th June 2013

Celebrating Our Future: New Directions in Medical Humanities Research and Annual Summer Party

3.30pm - 5pm, St Chad's College


We are delighted to invite all our Affiliates to the Centre for Medical Humanities Annual Summer Party.

This year we celebrate the new directions in Medical Humanities research through the work of three of our post-doctoral fellows. Each of the fellows will make a short presentation and we will then open the floor to questions and discussion, followed by drinks and canapés in a convivial setting to round off the academic year’s achievements. Our post-doctoral fellows are: Dr. Jenny Laws, who challenges one of the leading orthodoxies in contemporary health practice, that of active recoveries, and explores the nature of human energies (see; Dr. Will Viney, who is undertaking a cultural study of twins across history and literature; and Dr Hilary Powell, who works on twelfth-century saints’ lives in relation to the Hearing the Voice project.

Please RSVP to Catherine Syson if you would like to attend.

Monday 10th June 2013

'Putting a name to It: Diagnosis, health and illness'

Annemarie Jutel - Victoria University of Wellington, Graduate School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health


3 - 4.45pm, Williams Library, St Chad's College, Durham University.

While diagnosis is important in identifying and curing disease, it also has a strong social impact. Diagnosis can be a source of anxiety or of relief, of hope or of despair. It structures the experience of health and illness, deciding what counts as normal, defining who is responsible for what disorders, providing frameworks for communication and structuring relationships. It presents a point around which tensions may develop, and interests collide. This presentation will present the sociology of diagnosis, underlining how the material reality of disease is both shaped by, and influences, social life.

Dr Sally Brown, Senior Research Fellow in the School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health, will give a short response to the paper, followed by general discussion.

All are welcome.

Please RSVP to Catherine Syson if you would like to attend.

Thursday & Friday 16th - 17th May 2013

“Understanding Human Flourishing”: A Postgraduate Medical Humanities Conference

This is a two day event, to be held at Durham University.

Attendance is free, but there is a charge of £15 for the conference banquet - a full programme can be found here.

Registration is now closed.

Thursday 14th March 2013

Medical Humanities & General Practice Research & Education Workshop

10am - 4pm at the Royal College of General Practitioners, 30 Euston Square, London

Participants in the day include Iona Heath, recent past President of RCGP, Clare Gerada, Chair of RCGP, John Gillies, Chair of RCGP Scotland and Sue Kinsey, of RCGP’s Patient Partnership in Practice.

The day will be structured by 8 short presentations delivered in themed pairs. Each pair of presentations will be followed by 15/20 minutes facilitated discussion with the presenters who will be joined by a GP clinician. These conversations will then be opened to the floor for a further 20 minutes of discussion with participants. Iona Heath will facilitate the discussions and provide a link between the themed pairs throughout the day. John Gillies and Sue Kinsey will provide responses at the end of the day from the perspectives of the GP and the patient.

Registration costs £30 including refreshments on the day.

Further information can be found here

Wednesday 13th March 2013

Interview with David Bintley, Director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet

Elvet Riverside ER201, 6.15-7.30pm

As part of the public lecture series, ‘The Recovery of Beauty’, the Centre for Medical Humanities, the Department of English Studies, and the Institute of Advanced Studies of Durham University is hosting an interview with the Director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet and choreographer, David Bintley, CBE. The event will be suitable for advanced secondary school pupils, taking Dance at GCSE or A level. 

David Bintley is one of the most distinguished figures in British ballet. Formerly a dancer himself, distinguished in character roles from the Fokine/Stravinsky Petrushka to the comedy of an Ugly Sister in Ashton’s Cinderella, he has been director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet since 1995. His choreographies for the BRB and the Royal Ballet have been extensively performed. His many works include the social comedy of Hobson’s Choice (1989), the political ecology of ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café (1988), the adventurous and original subjects of Edward II (1995) and the two-part Arthur (2000, 2002), and retellings of myth and fairy-tale – Sylvia (2009), Cinderella (2011). He has choreographed commissioned works for the Stuttgart Ballet and the National Ballet of Japan, of which he is also Artistic Director.

The interview will be concerned with a range of topics connected with the overall theme of the series, ‘The Recovery of Beauty’, and in reference to Bintley’s ballets such as ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café, Hobson’s Choice, and Cinderella, all of which are currently available on DVD. 

All are welcome to attend. Entry is free. School teachers who would like to bring a group of GCSE or A-level students should contact Professor David Fuller: 

Thursday 7th February 2013

States of Rest, an IAS "Experiencing Time" Workshop

Kenworthy Hall, St Mary's College, 2-5pm

Time is often studied and conceptualised in ways which emphasise dynamism, flow and movement, the labours of attention, striving and growing. But what of those aspects of our corporeal existence which appear to depart from these concepts and notions? What is happening – existentially, ethically, neurologically – during states of rest? And how, methodologically, might be best explore such states?

These three presentations will be followed by a panel discussion and moderated question time. All are welcome and tea and coffee will be provided.

Please RSVP to Catherine Syson if you would like to attend.

All are welcome


Friday 25th January 2013

Collaborations with the Centre for Humanities Engaging Science and Society - CHESS

St Chad's Chapel, St Chad's College, 3.30-5pm

We are delighted to welcome Professor Julian Reiss to our affiliates meeting. Julian will introduce the aims and research directions planned for the new Centre for Humanities Engaging Science and Society, or CHESS, followed by discussion on areas of collaboration with the Centre for Medical Humanities and our affiliates. Julian joined Durham University as Professor of Philosophy in October, 2012, following previous appointments at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Complutense University, Madrid and the LSE, London. Informed by degrees in both economics and finance and in philosophy, Julian’s research interrogates the methodologies of the sciences (especially causal inference, thought experimentation and modelling), the philosophy of economics and normative issues in the philosophy of medicine. His publications include ‘Error in Economics: towards more evidence-based methodology’ (2008), ‘Philosophy of economics: a contemporary introduction’ (2013) and a forthcoming volume ‘Causality between metaphysics and methods’. 

The overarching goal of the new centre, CHESS, is to increase understanding of and improve the role of academic knowledge in society. The increasingly technical nature of socio-political and cultural decision making offers greater potential for the influence of academic knowledge. However, our understanding remains limited on the proper role of such knowledge, and particularly on how to create and use knowledge to better serve social goals. Addressing this gap will be the core work of CHESS. There are clearly many areas for collaborations across the two centres and we hope many of you will take this opportunity to come and meet Julian.

Please RSVP to

All are welcome


Wednesday 28th November 2012

Michael Symmons Roberts: A Reading and Interview

Lecture Room 140, Elvet Riverside, Durham University at 6.15pm

Michael Symmons Roberts will be reading from his poetry, and (with Professor David Fuller) discussing issues related to religion and beauty, the body in sacred and secular aspects, and, on the basis of his particular interest in genomics, the relations of poetry and science.


Michael Symmons Roberts is the author of five collections of poetry including Raising Sparks (1999), Burning Babylon (2001), which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot prize, Corpus (2004), winner of the Whitbread Poetry award (also shortlisted for the Forward Prize, the T.S.Eliot prize, and the Griffin International prize), and most recently The HalfHealed (2008). He is the author of two novels, Patrick's Alphabet (2006), and Breath (2008). With Paul Farley he has also written Edgelands: Journeys into England's True Wilderness (2011), which won the Foyles Best Book of Ideas award for 2012.

 Please contact for more information.


15th November 2012

CMH Postgraduate Meeting:

The next CMH postgrad meeting will be on the 15th November from 2-4pm, in G Committee Room, Trevelyan College.

We will be discussing the uses of and different approaches to PHENOMENOLOGY in our respective fields and research.

Any postgraduate who might be interested in this subject is very welcome to join. No prior knowledge of phenomenology required.

So if you have always wondered what phenomenology is all about, this might be your chance. Hopefully, our discussion will help clarify some of the key points.


Please contact for further information or to attend.

14th November 2012

Times of Transition Workshop

Kenworthy Hall, St Mary's College, Durham University from 2pm-5pm


Ritually celebrated yet sometimes invisible,momentuous and gradual, buoyed by hope and laced with loss - our lives consist of a series of transitions, transformations in our bodies and relationships, our identities and our place(s) in the world. This extended seminar explores quesitons of time, transition and creativity in three phases of the life-course - old age, adulthood, and early adolescence.


"Winter Fires - the artist in old age"

François Matarasso - Arts researcher, writer and Honorary Professor, Centre for Cultural Research, Griffith University, Australia.


“‘I’m a Loser, I’m Not Married, Let’s Just All Look at Me”: Women’s Experiences of Missing the Marital Transition”.

Elizabeth Sharp - Associate Professor, Human Development and Family Studies, Texas Tech University, USA.


“Roots and Wings - Celebrating Transition in Schools".

Mike White - Research Fellow in Arts and Health, Centre for Medical Humanities, Durham University.

& Mary Robson - Associate for Arts in Health and Education, Centre for Medical Humanities, Durham University.


Please contact for more information or to attend.