Job Opening: Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research ECR Development Lead

Post: Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research ECR Development Lead

Location: Durham City

Faculty / Division: Arts and Humanities

Department: Institute for Medical Humanities

Grade: Grade 6

Contract Type: Casual, hourly paid, ~10 hours/month.

Salary: £14.90/hour

Closing date: Thursday 16 December 2021 

Job Summary and Purpose

  • 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).

Key responsibilities

  • 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

  • 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

Contact information

For informal queries about this role please contact: Dr Fiona Johnstone, Postdoctoral Research Associate in Visual Medical Humanities, Institute for Medical Humanities, Durham University

Additional information:

Further information about Medical Humanities research at Durham can be found here:

How to apply:

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.

Posted on 26 Nov 2021, under News.

ECR Research & Development Fellowship Opportunity with AHRC and Zinc

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.

Contact Rachel Middlemass for more information

Posted on 10 Aug 2021, under News.


Medical Humanities: In(Visibility)

Online, Wednesday 21 – Friday 23 April, 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!

Posted on 09 Apr 2021, under News.

New! ECR Support Schemes Launched

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:

The NNMHR ECR Fellowship Scheme

The Thinking Through Things ECR Project Support Scheme

The schemes will be assessed independently of each other, and applicants are welcome to apply to both schemes if eligibility criteria are met. The deadline for submissions is noon on March 1 2021.

Posted on 01 Feb 2021, under News.

Call for Papers for Doctoral Seminar Series, University of Manchester’s Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (CHSTM)

We here at the University of Manchester’s Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (CHSTM) are currently organising our department’s lunchtime seminars for doctoral students/candidates. We are using this opportunity to take our seminars online (via Zoom) which means that we can shake things up with a more international cohort of speakers!

Any MA/PhD students who have an interest in medicine/science/technology are welcome to present their work as part of our seminars

Here are the details:

·       Seminars are Tuesdays, 13:00-14:00 (UK time)

·       Duration = 1 hour in total, with the presenter doing a c.a. 20-30 min presentation and 30min for Q&A

·       Available dates are:

o   Feb: 9th, 16th, 23rd

o   Mar: 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd

o   Apr: 13th, 20th, 27th

o   May: 4th, 11th

·       Submit 1) a Title for the talk and 2) a short blurb introducing the topic (here’s an example).

·       Please indicate your preferred dates for presenting (see above)

Contact Michaela Clark directly:
including if you would like to observe, rather than present

Posted on 01 Dec 2020, under News.

Call for Papers: NNMHR 4th Annual Congress, 21st-23rd April 2021, online

Medical Humanities: (In)Visibility

Call for Papers: 4th Congress of the Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research, Institute for Medical Humanities (IMH), Durham University, 21–23 April 2021.

Keynote speakers:

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. 
  • Invisible subjects / subjectivities – class, gender, sexuality, race, age, geography.
  • Visibility, activism, and advocacy in healthcare
  • 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.

Our hashtag is #NNMHR2021.

Posted on 26 Nov 2020, under News.

Call for Papers: ‘Senses in Modern Health/Care Environments: International and Interdisciplinary Perspectives’, University of Bristol, 8-9 September 2021

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.

For the full call, please see CFP. Senses in Modern Health/Care Environments: International and Interdisciplinary Perspectives.

Key details:

·       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.

Contact details

Sensing Spaces of Healthcare team, , or Dr Victoria Bates, Department of History, University of Bristol, .

Posted on 04 Sep 2020, under News.

POSTPONED ECR Workshop: Ethics and Aesthetics in the Visual Medical Humanities

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 and concerns:

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 humanities.
(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.

Posted on 27 Feb 2020, under News.

3rd Annual Congress, 23rd-24th January, Programme

Below is the programme for the 3rd Annual NNMHR Congress, taking place on 23rd and 24th January 2020 at the University of Sheffield.

Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research – 3rd Congress – Sheffield 2020
Generously funded by the Wellcome Trust

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.


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

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

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
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

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
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.’

3.30pm-4pm Coffee

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

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
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
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
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.

Additional Information:

Panel details for Day 2, Panel Session 4
Room 1, Provocation Panel:

Project Information

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.

Panel Information

Object of Enquiry:

Oblique Strategy for Wellcome Collection Search: ‘Mute and continue.’

Object: Combined knife and fork, Europe, 1914-1918.

Wellcome 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 available today.’

Provocation 1 ‘What is the reality of the situation?’ Olivia Turner (Newcastle University) Duration: 10 mins

A 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

What 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 object.

Provocation 4 ‘Do the washing up’ Dr Katherine Rawling (University of Leeds) Duration: 10 mins

This 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 historical moment.

Chaired discussion by Dr Fiona Johnstone (Durham University) Duration: 15 mins inc. Q&A

The chaired 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 medical humanities.

Posted on 10 Jan 2020, under News.

Call for Expressions of Interest: Thinking Through Things: ECR Training Day, 12th February 2020

Thinking Through Things: object encounters in the medical humanities

ECR training 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 medical humanities.

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 accommodation expenses.

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 January 2020.

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.

Thinking Through Things is funded by a Wellcome Trust Discretionary Award.

Posted on 22 Nov 2019, under News.