Are you a highly motivated and well organised early career researcher who is passionate about the future of medical humanities research?
Would you like to support other ECRs in developing their careers whilst gaining skills and networking opportunities that will enhance your own?
Are you ready to take on an active role in the running of a major research network?
Founded in 2013, The Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research (NNMHR) is a hub for academic researchers as well as practitioners, artists and others working in or allied to the medical humanities. It is led by the Universities of Durham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Northumbria, Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan, Sheffield and York. Since 2017, the NNMHR has supported medical humanities research in, and beyond, these ten institutions through four annual congresses, dedicated ECR events, a competitive seed scheme funding over a dozen research projects, and twelve Early Career Fellowships. The NNMHR runs a web site, e-list and Twitter account, further connecting scholars across the field.
The Network recognises the pressing need for meaningful support for early career researchers. In addition to issues of sector-wide precarity, scholars working in the medical humanities can face specific challenges around navigating interdisciplinarity (often engaging in the medical humanities while balancing the needs of a ‘home’ discipline), conducting engaged research in the context of cross-sector collaborations and engaging the public around sensitive and health- related topics.
The NNMHR is looking to appoint a new part-time ECR Development Lead to help shape the Network’s activities over the next four years, with a particular focus on ensuring that ECR support and development remain at the heart of the Network’s endeavours. The postholder will co-ordinate a series of ECR workshops or other events, with a focus on creating community, promoting interdisciplinary connections, introducing new methodologies and thematic / theoretical approaches, and offering skills training and career development opportunities within the medical humanities. Previous workshops (2019-2021) organised by the outgoing postholder have included: ‘Ethics of Sensitive Visual Material in the Medical Humanities’; ‘Picking Yourself Up’; ‘Preparing Conference Presentations’; ‘Advice on Working from Home’; a ‘Networking Breakfast’ at the NNMHR Congress; and regular ECR Coffee Mornings online. In addition, the postholder will be expected to serve as an active and enthusiastic member of the NNMHR’s Steering Group, attending and contributing to Steering Group meetings, coordinating NNMHR communications (including regularly updating the WordPress site and maintaining the Twitter account); contributing to long-term Congress planning; and supporting other aspects of day-to-day network management.
The postholder will be formally based in the Institute for Medical Humanities in Durham City but will work mainly remotely; some in-person attendance at steering group meetings or other in-person events may be expected (reasonable travel expenses will be paid).
This position is funded by a Wellcome Trust Discretionary Award (2021-2025).
Design, deliver and evaluate at least 3 ECR workshops per year.
Be an active member of the NNMHR Steering Group, representing the views and perspectives of ECRs
Monitor and update the NNMHR webpages as necessary
Maintain regular activity on the NNMHR Twitter account
Enthusiastically publicise and support NNMHR activities, particularly with a view to encouraging ECR involvement
Review, with other members of the NNMHR Steering Group, applications to NNMHR research grant schemes
Other duties as required to support the core business of the NNMHR
Person Specification Essential:
A MA or MSc in a relevant medical humanities subject area
Demonstrated commitment to the medical humanities as an interdisciplinary research field
The ability to build and maintain relationships with contributors and other stakeholders which enhance the research and reputation of the Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research
Experience of devising and delivering academic events, both online and in-person
Excellent organisational, IT and administrative skills
The ability to work independently, take initiative and prioritise your own workload without close supervision
The ability to work well as part of a team
A PhD in a relevant medical humanities subject area
Proficiency in using WordPress
Proficiency in using social media (especially Twitter) to engage audiences with research events and activities
Experience of event evaluation
Experience in research funding proposal evaluation
Experience of using the networking platform Wonder
For informal queries about this role please contact: Dr Fiona Johnstone, Postdoctoral Research Associate in Visual Medical Humanities, Institute for Medical Humanities, Durham University
To apply send the items listed below to Jane Abel () by 12 noon Thursday 16 December.
1. A CV 2. A covering letter which describes your suitability for the role against the criteria specified above (max 2 pages). 3. A brief proposal (250 words max) for an event or series of events aimed at ECRs that you would like to run for the Network.
Applicants MUST be based in the UK and eligible to work in the UK.
Interviews will be held via video call (Zoom) in the week commencing 17 January 2022.
The Research & Development team for Zinc, which builds brand-new companies from scratch to develop products and services that respond to urgent societal challenges, offers the below opportunity:
We have four overarching mission areas around: mental health, healthy ageing, the future of work in contexts of automation and globalisation, and the environment. Each of our venture-builder programmes has a sharp focus on a specific aspect of one of those missions. Over the course of the programme, we help founders to understand the unmet needs and identify the underserved communities within that specific area, and to develop new, commercially scalable products and services that respond to them.
The AHRC has generously provided pilot funding to allow an ambitious ECR to join Zinc for a 12-month Research & Development Fellowship, working alongside the new intake of founders in our next venture-builder starting in October. Applicants can have a background in any AHRC discipline but should have a strong interest in Zinc’s current mission focus on improving mental health for children and young people. They do not need any previous commercial experience to apply for this post.
This is an exciting opportunity for a researcher interested in learning more about the world of mission-focused start-ups to get a very different type of ‘industry’ experience. They’ll join our in-house R&D team and work directly with start-up founders in a supportive, research-focused commercial environment. The R&D Fellow will gain particular understanding and significant hands-on experience of research in the context of early-stage innovation.
This may appeal to arts and humanities PhD students who are expecting to complete their viva before October and/or any ECRs who may be considering their next move and interested in innovation. They can find more information about this opportunity and apply for the R&D Fellowship here. The deadline for applications is 18:00 on Monday 30th August 2021.
The global and local health inequalities revealed and perpetuated by the COVID-19 pandemic require us to reflect upon how we do medical humanities research. How does our work render some aspects of health and illness visible, while leaving others out of sight?
The aim of this year’s congress is to think more carefully about what sort of experiences the medical humanities has become adept at bringing to light, whilst reflecting on the ways in which theoretical methodologies, research priorities and funding structures have left other voices unheard.
We are delighted to bring you over 50 sessions which cover a huge range of perspectives on the theme of invisibility in the medical humanities. Key themes include COVID-19, shame, disability and mental health, and our speakers will be joining us from from all over the world.
Further information and registration can be found here
The Congress is free to access, but registration is required
We look forward to hosting a global audience with dynamic and innovative research. See you there!
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research and the Thinking Through Things collective have launched two new schemes to provide financial support for Early Career Researchers in medical humanities.
We have the support of the Wellcome Trust in redirecting existing funds earmarked for workshops, events and pilot projects towards schemes which provide direct financial support to precariously employed ECRs, enabling them to complete existing projects or publications, or to plan for new ones.
To find out more about what is offered, who is eligible, and how to apply, please visit:
Call for Papers: 4th Congress of the Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research, Institute for Medical Humanities (IMH), Durham University, 21–23 April 2021.
Bettina Bildhauer (School of Modern Languages, University of St Andrews) – ‘Invisible Blood: Hiding Menstruation from the Middle Ages to Today’
Felicity Callard (School of Geographical & Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow) – ‘Epidemic Time: Thinking from the Sick Bed
Jules Netherland (Drugs Policy Alliance, New York) – ‘White Opioids: The Racialization of the Opioid Epidemic’
Jaipreet Virdi (Department of History, University of Delaware) – ‘“Invisible yet potent helps”: Technologies Between Deafness and Hearing’
The fourth Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research (NNMHR) Congress will be held online on 21–23 April 2021, in collaboration with the Institute for Medical Humanities, Durham. The aim of the Congress is simple: it is an opportunity for people who are passionate or even simply curious about medical humanities research to present their work, share ideas, and meet potential future colleagues and collaborators. The Congress is not limited to members of the network.
The global and local health inequalities revealed and perpetuated by the Covid-19 pandemic require us to reflect upon how we do medical humanities research. We ask participants to consider the ways in which our work renders some aspects of health and illness visible, while leaving others out of sight. We hope to think more carefully about what sort of experiences the medical humanities has become adept at bringing to light, whilst reflecting on the ways in which theoretical methodologies, research priorities and funding structures have left other voices unheard. Contributors may also wish to consider how the medical humanities can become more visible in wider health funding structures and in relation to strategic health priorities. Presentations focused on health, illness and experience from any disciplinary perspective might address topics including:
Scale – health and illness from the microscopic and genetic to the global and systemic.
Affect and expression – silences, shame, and embarrassment.
Symptoms and diagnosis – the medically unexplained; evidence and validity; latency, and interiority.
Invisible forms of labour in healthcare.
Hidden or unacknowledged biases in medical research and funding structures.
The influence of clinical measurement or evaluation instruments and structures on what is seen and not seen.
Senses, interfaces and technologies in healthcare – beyond the visual.
Overlooked spaces of care (e.g. the home, religious institutions, homeless shelters).
Archives, narratives, histories of health and illness – how are these histories recorded? What is left out?
The quotidian, unremarkable and dull in healthcare; illness and boredom.
Visual culture and its others in health and wellbeing – sound-worlds, tactile environments, the intersensory.
In addition to presentations of ongoing research, we welcome papers on research methods, impact, and engagement. Proposals from postgraduate and early career researchers are also very welcome, as are those from professionals and practitioners who are actively involved in research but not based in the academy. We encourage contributions from individuals working in any discipline and at any institution, within the UK or internationally. We are keen to include work that addresses the challenges of our current moment, as well as that which reveals the value of alternative historical perspectives.
Running the NNMHR Congress online for the first time opens up many exciting possibilities for a truly global and a more inclusive event which makes innovative use of a range of digital formats. Including synchronous and asynchronous elements, the Congress will be programmed to engage audiences in a range of time-zones, mitigate zoom fatigue, and provide as many opportunities as possible for informal networking.
We invite proposals of 200 words on the topic of ‘Medical Humanities: Invisibility’ in one of three formats:
20-minute papers, which will be organised into themed panels;
90-minute sessions involving multiple participants (these could be themed panels, roundtables, interviews, performances with Q&As, or any other format organised by participants); or
3-minute pre-recorded videos, animations or presentations to be made accessible online in a virtual poster session.
Please submit your proposal for the Congress using this form by Friday 12 February 2021. All proposals will be reviewed by staff at the Institute for Medical Humanities, Durham University in consultation with the NNMHR Congress Steering Group, and presenters will be notified by Friday 5 March 2021, when registration will open. If you have any questions please contact the conference organizers:
The NNMHR Congress is funded by the Wellcome Trust and is free to attend.
We are pleased to invite submissions for an interdisciplinary conference exploring the sensory aspects of environments of health and care, broadly conceived. Together, we will debate the complex intertwining of spaces, materials, technologies, bodies and human behaviour, spanning architecture and design, arts and health, history and sociology, literature, medical education, and much more.
· Submssions are due to by 31st January 2021. We invite traditional and non-traditional paper formats, creative contributions, and other proposals, as well as pre-formed panels.
· We will aim to let you know of the outcome of your submission by early March 2021.
· The conference will feature three key strands, though it is not mandatory to apply to these: Mundane Materialities of Care, Senses and Emotions, and Form and Experience: Designing for Health and Care.
· We are offering fee-paying commissions for up to six artists and creative practitioners to deliver creative, immersive, or interactive presentations, workshops or activities
· Travel bursaries are available for early career, unwaged and postgraduate researchers, as well as support for international delegates.
· We anticipate a joining fee of approximately £25 per day, not including travel and accommodation.
This conference is hosted by the Wellcome Trust-funded network ‘Senses and Modern Health/care Environments: Exploring interdisciplinary and international opportunities’ (2019-22). To join the network, please see here.
Sensing Spaces of Healthcare team, , or Dr Victoria Bates, Department of History, University of Bristol, .
Ethics and Aesthetics in the Visual Medical Humanities An ECR Workshop
Wednesday 1st April, 2020, 11.00 – 5.00, St Chad’s College, Durham University
The aim of this workshop is to address pressing concerns relating
to the uses and abuses of art and visual culture in medical humanities. It will
consider the opportunities and challenges in working collaboratively with
creative practitioners, and address multiple ethical concerns regarding the
dissemination of sensitive materials in medical humanities research.
In part, the workshop will address the following questions
What practicalities need to be
considered by researchers in ‘traditional’ disciplines who would like to work
collaboratively with artists and other creative practitioners?
What should we consider when using
images and visual culture in our research?
What context and additional information
must we offer when sharing sensitive images pertaining to health and medicine?
While individual universities require formal ethical
approval for many aspects of research, the medical humanities pose further
questions and concerns about how we display, share, contextualise, and present
details of real lives and often sensitive subject matter. The discussion will include
advice on how to use and share images on social media, in presentations,
exhibitions, and public engagement events, in ways which are respectful of
individuals throughout history, and for an audience to view safely.
Guest Speakers: Dr Fiona Johnstone (Durham University) Dr Katherine Rawling (University of Leeds) Dr Beatriz Pichel (De Montfort University)
The workshop is open to all ECRs working in medical
(ECRs: early career researchers not in a permanent post).
The workshop is free to attend, and will include lunch. Places are limited.
A number of travel bursaries are available.
Please send a short biography and expression of interest to
Marie Allitt ,
by Monday 16th March 2020.
Please provide estimated details of travel costs if you would like to be
considered for a travel bursary.
This event is organised by Dr Marie Allitt, Postdoctoral Research Assistant for the Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research, with the support of Durham’s Institute for Medical Humanities and the University of Leeds, and the Wellcome Trust.
Below is the programme for the 3rd Annual NNMHR Congress, taking place on 23rd and 24th January 2020 at the University of Sheffield.
ON BEHALF OF THE NORTHERN NETWORK FOR MEDICAL HUMANITIES, WE WELCOME YOU TO: Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research – 3rd Congress – Sheffield 2020 Generously funded by the Wellcome Trust THE CONFERENCE PROGRAMME IS PRODUCED ELECTRONICALLY TO SAVE PAPER AND RESOURCES.
Venues: Rooms 1-3: The Edge / Room 4: Halifax Hall Panel Papers are 15 mins each, with the remaining time for questions . Keynotes are c.40 mins with the remaining time for questions.
SCHEDULE IN BRIEF: THURSDAY 23RD JANUARY 9-9.30 am REGISTRATION 9.30-10.30 am KEYNOTE ONE 10.30-11 am COFFEE 11 am-12.30 pm PANEL SESSION 1 12.30-2pm LUNCH 2-3.30 pm PANEL SESSION 2 3.30-4pm COFFEE 4-5pm KEYNOTE TWO CONFERENCE CURRY FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BOOKED: AAGRAH, LEOPOLD SQUARE
FRIDAY 24th JANUARY 8-9 am EARLY CAREER RESEARCHER NETWORKING BREAKFAST 9-10.30 am PANEL SESSION 3 10.30-11 am COFFEE 11am-12 pm KEYNOTE THREE 12-1.30 pm LUNCH 1.30-3 pm PANEL SESSION 4 3-3.30 pm COFFEE 3.30-5 pm WRAP UP session
Full schedule Thursday 23rd January 2020 9am-9.30am Registration (The Edge – Bar area)
9.30-10.30 Keynote 1 – Edge Room 1 Jo Winning ‘The Shadow on the Object: exploring physician burnout through object-relations theory’
10.30am-11.00am Coffee (Bar Area – The Edge) 11am-12.30pm: Panel Session 1 ( ROOMS 1-3 AT THE EDGE, ROOM 4 NEARBY AT HALIFAX HALL)
Room 1 THE EDGE: Leen De Vreese: ‘Experience and the goals of medicine. A reply to Alex Broadbent.’ Marian Peacock: ‘Experiencing a diagnosis of Non-epileptic Attack Disorder (NEAD) in neoliberal times; can thinking sociologically help us?’ Maria Patsou: ‘Whose life is it anyway? Agency in collaborative, devised performance about mental illness’
Room 2 THE EDGE: Amy Wilson: ‘The experience of mental illness in physicians’ Wendy French: ‘Writing the Memoir with Cancer Patients or Writing to know Oneself Better’ Kate McAllister: ‘Encounters, Experience, and Epidemic Encephalitis: a historical approach’ Anna Terje: ‘Experiences of the medical encounter in social prescribing: Narratives of patients in Scotland’
Room 3 THE EDGE: Natalie Riley: ‘Nature Morte: Art and Dying in Sarah Hall’s How to Paint a Dead Man (2009)’ Lianne Bakkum: ‘The Experience of Trauma from an Attachment-Theoretical Perspective’ Veronica Heney: ‘Troubling narrative experiences: sticking with self-harm’ Francesca Lewis: ‘From Clinical Gaze to Epoché: creative, counter-diagnostic explorations of borderline experience through phenomenology’
Room 4 (Halifax): Andy Holroyde: ‘Recovering Experience from the Archives: Disability and Sheltered Employment in Britain c.1945-1979’ Marie Meier: ‘The Concealment of Mental Maladies: Exploring Secrecy and Changing Experiences of Mental Illnesses in a Welfare State Perspective’ Arianna Introna ‘Notes towards a transindividual cripistemology of the ill body
12.30pm-2pm Lunch (The Edge)
2pm-3.30pm Panel Session 2 ( ROOMS 1-3 AT THE EDGE, ROOM 4 NEARBY AT HALIFAX HALL)
Room 1: Elise Brault-Dreux: ‘ Experiencing hospitalization with Peter Reading’s C: poetic limit-situations’ . Gabrielle King: ‘Loss, speech and Motor Neurone Disease: Taking a disease led approach to the experiences of doing interview research’ Andrew Williams: ‘Thinking outside the box in clinical practice’ Lijiaozi Cheng: ‘Anxiety Related Disorders, Sub-optimal Health, And Their Diagnosis: A Phenomenological and Auto-Ethnographic Reflection’
Room 2: Eleanor Byrne ‘Caveats of Epistemic Injustice in Healthcare: The Case of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis’ Julie Gottlieb ‘The Personal and Psychiatric Experience of Political Crisis: Britain 1938-39’ Ruby Rathbone ‘British Media Representation of Migrants and the NHS During the ‘Windrush Scandal’: A Frame Analysis.’ Elena Teodora Manea “The voice without a body. Medical Interpreting in the NHS”
Room 3: Irene Geerts ‘It’s all in the family: How experience shaped the Dutch movement of family members of people with mental illness, 1964-1984 Fiona Malpass ‘Experiences of mental health care as depicted in clinical notes vs personal experiences and recollections: disparities, contradictions, and paradoxes.’ Naomi Wynter-Vincent ‘Learning from Experience: The Work of Wilfred Bion’
Room 4 (Halifax): Georgia Haire ‘Have You Tried Relaxing?’: The Experience and Treatment of Vaginismus as a Contested and Neglected Condition’ Sarah Skryme ‘Animating the illness experience’ Chelsea Saxby ‘Towards a history of The Urinary Infection Club: cystitis, self-help and experiential expertise in 1970s Britain’ Richard Cooper ‘Reflexivity across the qualitative health researcher career and implications for representations of experiences of healthcare.’
4-5pm Keynote 2: Edge Main Room Havi Carel: ‘Organ transplantation: the shadow of illness in philosophy and literature’
Day 2 8am – 9am Arrival & Coffee
8am-9am: Early Career Research Networking Breakfast This session is open to any researchers on fixed term / precarious contracts. As well as a chance to meet and share experiences, there will be very short presentations sharing tips and strategies around securing funding, and coping with precarity. Chair : Marie Allitt. Speakers : Thomas Bray (Wellcome Trust), Chris Millard, Fiona Johnstone.
9am-10.30am Panel Session 3 ( ROOMS 1-3 AT THE EDGE, ROOM 4 NEARBY AT HALIFAX HALL)
Room 1: Tracey Loughran ‘Problematising Women’s Everyday Health Experiences: Intersectionality, (Inter)subjectivity, and Oral History’ Alex Henry ‘In a “Time of Undiagnosis”: “Unexplained” Symptoms and Chronicity in Ali Smith’s Hotel World (2001)’ Trenholme Jughans ‘“In/Visibilizing” “Patient Experience” in the Assessment of Orphan Drugs: The Dialectics of Inclusion and Marginalization’
Room 2 : Elspeth Graham ‘The experience of care and the work of culture (or, empathy and its discontents) Christopher Locke ‘From the margins to the mainstream: how the experience of political resistance shaped the professional culture of General Practitioners in nineteenth and early twentieth century Britain’ Radha Bhat ‘Mental Health and Marginalisation in Children and Young People’ Alexandra Kaley ‘Affirming (inter)subjective disabled lives: A critical medical humanities approach’
Room 3 : Marjolein de Boer ‘The political patient: The significance of patient’s experiences in health care politics’ Alistair Wardrope ‘Turning experience into evidence: testimonial injustice and the role of testimony in the clinical encounter’ Robin Boeré ‘Children and Experience at the End of Life’
Room 4 (Halifax) : Ian Sabroe ‘Clinical experience and things not said, as revealed by study of narrative’ Arundi Mahendran ‘The adventure of affect: exploring the uncertain nature of clinical experience’ Sarah Spence ‘Accessing anorexia in Andrew O’Hagan’s novel Personality (2003)’
10.30-11am Coffee 11-12 Keynote 3 (AT THE EDGE) Ankhi Mukherjee: Psychoanalysis of the Oppressed, a Practice of Freedom: Free Clinics in Urban India.
Lunch: 12-1.30pm 1.30-3pm Panel Session 4 (ROOMS 1-3 AT THE EDGE, ROOM 4 NEARBY AT HALIFAX HALL) Room 1 : Provocation Panel (further details at the bottom of this page) Launch of ‘Thinking Through Things’ Project Provocation 1 : ‘What is the reality of the situation?’ Olivia Turner Provocation 2 : ‘Do the words need changing?’ Bentley Crudgington Provocation 3 : ‘Convert a melodic element into a rhythmic element’ Jacqueline Waldock Provocation 4 : ‘Do the washing up’ Katherine Rawling Discussion. Chair: Fiona Johnstone
Room 2 : Emma Trott ‘Heart Surgery, the Posthuman Body, and the Materially Entangled Self’ Finola Finn: ‘The Heart and Experience in Seventeenth-Century England’ Rebecca O’Neal: ‘The “Rule of experience”: dissection, collaboration and metaphor in Thomas Willis’s Anatomy of the Brain’
Room 3 : Tobias Dietrich ‘Experiences as Aesthetic Change’ Luna Dolezal and Arthur Rose ‘Challenging the ‘Neutral’ Doctor: Considering Shame, Race and Gender in the Medical Memoir’ Tamara Hervey & Matthew Wood: ‘Studying Experience and Marginalisation in post-Brexit health governance’ Anna Kemball “It’s just a story”: Reclaiming Windigo Psychosis’
Room 4 (Halifax) : Berkay Ustun ‘Can metaphysical experience be a clinical category?’ Alice Hall: ‘“Women Are News”: Women’s Experience, Work and the Carers UK Archive’ Luis Fernando Bernardi Junqueira ‘In Search of the Spirit: Autohypnosis and the Realization of the Self in Modern China, c. 1900–1949’ Jane Macnaughton: ‘“Dance Easy”: translating research on experience of breathlessness into a new management approach’
3-3.30 Coffee Final wrap up and discussion (Room 1)
Please note the conference is now full.
Panel details for Day 2, Panel Session 4 Room 1, Provocation Panel:
This panel will launch the research initiative ‘Thinking through things: object encounters in the medical humanities’. This project has been devised by a team of eight ECRs from the NNMHR, in response to an invitation from the Wellcome Collection to apply for a Discretionary Award to support a programme of activities that will stimulate interdisciplinary dialogue around Wellcome Collection’s holdings. By approaching selected objects in the Collection as ‘provocations to thought’ and ‘companions to our emotional lives’ (Turkle, 2011), the project will investigate how thinking and feeling ‘through things’ can generate new understandings of health.
Panel Abstract – Archival Imaginarium
Our Archival Imaginarium takes Wellcome’s digital Collection as its starting point, asking how the digital encounter influences the way medical humanities research is conducted. Researchers frequently describe experiences of a collection through notions of chance, in ‘happening upon’ or ‘discovering’ items. However, the organisational framework placed on the material is masked through catalogues, hierarchies and search terms. This invisible framework limits and governs the stories told by implicitly shaping the responses that researchers then formulate.
Our provocations use Brian Eno’s (1975)
‘Oblique Strategies’ as a serendipitous model for engaging with Wellcome’s digital
Collection and ask how we might reimagine the archival experience with
chance as our guide. By displacing the organisational framework, there is the
potential to expose choices, exclusions, and gaps that are inevitable, but
often invisible, in any collection.
An interdisciplinary panel of ECRs have each created a response to the same object, ‘Combined knife and fork’ (1914-1918), chosen at random using an Oblique Strategy as a non-hierarchical digital collection search tool. Each provocation uses an Oblique Strategy as title and prompt, and draws upon the participant’s particular disciplinary expertise. This highlights the diversity of potential modes of experiencing and understanding the archival medical object, and suggesting ways in which these multiple modalities of approach might shape original perspectives on health and its associated concepts.
Object of Enquiry:
Strategy for Wellcome Collection Search: ‘Mute and continue.’
Combined knife and fork, Europe, 1914-1918.
Object Description: ‘Eating a meal using only one hand can be difficult. The
design of this combined knife and fork is known as a Nelson pattern, named
after Horatio Nelson (1758-1805), the British naval hero who lost an arm during
the Battle of the Nile in 1798…Many of the thousands of arm amputees from
that conflict were issued with these Nelson knives as part of their
rehabilitation. A simple but highly effective design, Nelson knives are still
Provocation 1 ‘What is the reality of the situation?’ Olivia
Turner (Newcastle University) Duration: 10 mins
performed creative text inspired by Katrina Palmer’s (2011) notion of ‘reality
flickers’. It presents a fictionalised reality of the object, which by its very
nature in the digital archive is unstable and contingent, quivering between
being absent and present. This provocation highlights both the instability of
the archival object and the role of language in re-contextualising, reimagining
and redefining the experience of an object reality.
Provocation 2 ‘Do the words need changing?’ Dr Bentley
Crudgington (Manchester University) Duration: 10 mins
can a Gestalt design analysis of a digital archival object reveal about the
potentiality of an experience; what agency does the viewer have to ensure
meaning does not purely arise from the image, or text, but from an interaction
of both? Are these words editing and stripping narratives from the visual
resource by elevating the subject and repressing the viewer? What other
experience could fill the empty sleeve?
Provocation 3 ‘Convert a melodic element into a
rhythmic element’ Dr Jacqueline Waldock (University of Liverpool)
Duration: 10 mins
‘Noises have been the immediate raw materials of a
divination (cledonomacy): to listen is, in an institutional manner to try to
find out what is happening.’ (Barthes, 1985:247) This provocation will explore
the sonic realities of the object. Sounding the object as a listening experience
in the present and as a reimagined sonic performance. This provocation
questions the ocular centricity of the archive and re-evaluates the sounding
Provocation 4 ‘Do the washing up’ Dr Katherine Rawling
(University of Leeds) Duration: 10 mins
provocation provides a historical analysis and contextualisation of the object
and questions key concerns of power, agency, patient experiences and identities
in relation to the object, the Wellcome Collection and wider cultural health. It
also considers the place of technologies and adaptation in a particular
Chaired discussion by Dr Fiona Johnstone (Durham
University) Duration: 15 mins inc. Q&A
discussion will collectively question the nature of interdisciplinary research
and experience in the Collection, how broad a concept ‘health’ can be, and
explore the tensions between the
singular disciplinary voice and a polyphonic approach to the experience of
Through Things: object encounters in the medical humanities
day: Wellcome Collection, London, Wednesday 12th February 2020, 11-5
This training day, hosted by Wellcome Collection in collaboration with
the project Thinking Through
Things, is designed to provide ECRs with the skills necessary for working with
objects, images and artworks for research, teaching or engagement in the
Designed to maximise interactivity between participants and objects, the
day will include a conservator-led session on object-handling; practical
training in catalogue use; the opportunity to meet Wellcome archivists and to engage
with a selection of archival materials from the Collection; and short
presentations from ECR academics who have previously worked with the Collection.
In addition to developing practical skills, the day will also seek to
address a number of theoretical and methodological questions in relation to the
Collection and beyond. How can objects, images and artworks be used as ‘things
to think with’ (Turkle, 2011), feel with, and imagine with, in order to address
health-related topics in original and innovative ways? What is the affective
potential of the archival encounter in health-related research? What is gained
by handling archival objects directly, rather than reading about them or
encountering them through facsimile? How does an archive (re)contextualise an
object, image or artwork? What does it mean to categorise an object as ‘art’,
and what are the consequences of assembling an art collection around subject
matter rather than ‘aesthetic’ or ‘cultural’ value?
This training day is aimed at ECRs from all disciplines interested in
learning more about working with the objects, images and artworks held by
Wellcome Collection. We welcome ECRs with existing experience of object-based
scholarship, and those with little or no experience who feel that their
research could benefit from this approach. We define the category of ECR broadly,
from first-year PhD students to researchers up to ten years post-PhD who do not
yet have a permanent academic job.
A number of bursaries are available to cover reasonable travel and
This workshop is part of the event programme for Thinking Through
Things, which is funded by a Wellcome Trust Discretionary Award.
How to apply:
Due to the interactive nature of this workshop, places are limited. Please
send an expression of
interest of up to 200 words outlining your work in the medical humanities to
date, and your reasons for wanting to participate in the workshop. If you would
like to be considered for a bursary, please mention this when submitting your
expression of interest, and give an indication of costs.
Deadline for applications: Friday 20th December 2019.
We aim to respond to all expressions of interest by Friday 10th
About Thinking Through Things
Thinking Through Things has been developed by a team of ECRs from across the Northern
Network for Medical Humanities Research: project PI, Dr Fiona Johnstone
(Durham), and collaborators Dr Marie Allitt (Leeds), Dr Ashleigh Blackwood
(Northumbria), Dr Bentley Crudgington (Manchester), Dr Ilaria Grando
(York), Dr Katherine Rawling (Leeds), Olivia Turner (Newcastle), and Dr
Jacqueline Waldock (Liverpool).
Asking what might be gained by ‘doing’ medical humanities
through objects and images, the award will support an innovative programme of
activities designed to stimulate interdisciplinary dialogue around the holdings
of the Wellcome Collection. By bringing together ECRs and other professional
participants, including creative practitioners and museums/archives staff, the
Collection will be activated to appeal to a range of stakeholders beyond those
who usually carry out archival work. By approaching selected objects in the
Collection as ‘provocations to thought’ and ‘companions to our emotional lives’
(Turkle, 2011), the proposed activities will investigate how thinking and
feeling ‘through things’ can generate new understandings of health.
Activities will centre around two workshops, the first at
the Wellcome Collection in early 2020, and the second at a Northern Network
institution in summer 2020. Outputs will include a series of linked podcasts,
essays and interviews, showcasing the project’s findings; a Working
Knowledge Project Short outlining
best practice for ‘doing’ medical humanities with objects; and a sustainable
network of collaborators for further projects. Additionally, the programme will
support ECRs in acquiring the necessary skills for working with objects for
research and engagement purposes, and will enable ECRs to form professional
connections outside of the academy, laying the groundwork for future research,
outreach, and engagement activities.
Through Things is funded by a Wellcome Trust Discretionary Award.