Thinking Through Things: Object Encounters in the Medical Humanities

A collaborative project, developed by a team of ECRs from across the NNMHR and funded by a Wellcome Trust Discretionary Award.

Asking what might be gained by ‘doing’ medical humanities through objects and images, the project 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 Leeds/Durham 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.