Programme for the North West Medical Humanities PG Network Interdisciplinary Workshop, 19 April 2018.

The programme for the first workshop to be hosted by the North West Medical Humanities Postgraduate Network is now availble. We have some fantastic papers from a range of disciplinary backgrounds given by individuals working in the Medical Humanities. The event is free to attend so please register here.


North West Medical Humanities Postgraduate Network Interdisciplinarity Workshop

Lancaster University, 19 April 2018


9.30 Registration


10.00 Welcome address


10.10 Keynote speaker:

‘Germs on Film: Historic Imagery and Hand Hygiene’

Dr James Stark, Associate Professor of Medical Humanities at Leeds University


11.15 Coffee break


11.30 Panel One: Therapeutic Spaces

Chaired by Erin Bramwell, Lancaster University


Matilda Blackwell, University of Birmingham, ‘Queering the Water-Cure: Fluid Sexualities in the Therapeutic Bathroom Spaces of Emily Holmes Coleman, Antonia White and Katherine Mansfield’


Felix Goodbody, University of Liverpool, ‘‘Small, noisy, and awkwardly shaped.’ The 1942 Hospital Survey and early hopes for a National Health Service’


Marie Allitt, University of York, ‘Palimpsestic Aesthetics in First World War Medical Spaces’


13.00 Lunch


14.00 Panel Two: Personal Stories and Autobiographies

Chair TBC


Eleni Theodoropoulou, University of Liverpool, ‘The socio-cultural associations of drug use and recovery: empirical data from Athens’


Charlotte Orr, University of Glasgow, ‘‘What Science Has Done to Me’: Sir Ronald Ross’s Battle for Scientific Priority in Memoirs: with a full account of the great malaria problem and its solution’


Christine Stadler, Chemnitz University of Technology, ‘Je sont des autres – AIDS and the fragmented self in Hervé Guibert’s Le Paradis


15.30 Coffee Break


16.00 Panel Three: Power, Medical Authority, and Patient Agency

Chaired by Natalie Mullen, Lancaster University


Louise Tomkow, University of Manchester, ‘How does forced migration affect health in later life?’


Botsa Katara, Durham University, ‘The Prosthetic Body: Abled, Disabled or Posthuman?’


Beata Gubacsi, University of Liverpool, ‘Stigmatisation and Posthuman Care in Octavia Butler’s ‘The Evening and the Morning and the Night’’.


17.30 Closing Address

17.45 Conference Close



Image: Tom Merry, A quack doctor selling remedies from his caravan (1889), CC. Wellcome Collection.


Establishing a North West Interdisciplinary Medical Humanities Postgraduate Network

As you will have seen from our Call for Papers, we are hosting a workshop at Lancaster University for PGRs and ECRs working in the Medical Humanities. This free one-day event is very kindly funded by the ESRC Interdisciplinary Event Fund. Correspondingly, the focus of the workshop will be on interdisciplinarity in this field, what it means to us, how we use it in our research, and how we can do it better. The ‘how we can do it better’ part, for us, is the underlying rationale for organizing this workshop. In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, goal-setting, and reflection, we wanted to write a short post about why we decided to host this workshop, what we hope it will achieve, and what we hope it might lead to in the long term.

First of all, we should start by explaining a little bit about ourselves and our backgrounds. Erin and I share an office in Lancaster University’s History Department. We’re both PhD students working in the Medical Humanities, Erin is in her second year and I’m in my third. Although we both work in areas that are within the field of Medical Humanities, we work on different topics. Erin researches patent medicine culture in twentieth-century Britain, and I research nineteenth- and twentieth-century asylums. Despite this, we often find that there are methodological overlaps between our projects, such as material and spatial approaches. Let us give you an example…

Last year I was writing a chapter on the material culture of the asylum and I was particularly interested in the relationship between the interior of the asylum and the interiors of Victorian middle-class homes. One of my sources is a collection of photographs of the rooms in Lancaster County Asylum, which show how they were decorated (figure 1). Erin was looking at one of these photographs on my laptop screen and remarked on the presence of mahogany in the room. Erin commented that mahogany frequently featured in early twentieth-century chemists that sold a whole host of ornate medicinal products (figure 2). Erin recommended Jennifer Anderson’s Mahogany (2012); this illuminated that mahogany was integral to middle-class aesthetics because of its association with luxury, having a variety of interesting implications for the domestic and commercial branches of our research.

Figure 1: Day Room in Lancaster County Asylum, c. 1890.


Figure 2: Boots store 274 – 7/8 Pride Hill, Shrewsbury (1922), Boots Company Archives, WBA/BT/21/46/1/801/2.


This conversation, and many others like it, made us reflect on how beneficial it is to be aware of the approaches other scholars are using to tackle the questions and problems that we work with in the Medical Humanities. In particular, we discussed how important it is to talk to people in other disciplines about how they might deal with a particular problem or question. What might they do differently? What will they notice that you’ve missed? What approaches are they using that you could adopt? We want our workshop on 19 April to be a platform for these kinds of questions. By focusing on how PGRs and ECRs in North West Universities are using interdisciplinary methods in their own research, we would like to provide an opportunity for people from different disciplines to inspire one another with methodological insights.

We hope that this will be a the first in a series of events run by the North West Interdisciplinary Medical Humanities Postgraduate Network. Each event will focus on a different aspect of Medical Humanities research for a PGR and ECR audience. We also hope that after the initial workshop, this blog can serve as an ongoing, interactive forum for those of us who want to ask for different perspectives and opinions on how we’re approaching our research questions. And of course, possibly above all else, we want to selfishly spend an entire day hearing about Medical Humanities projects!

The first workshop will take place on the 19 April 2018. To apply, send an abstract of 250 words for a 20 minute paper and a short biographical statement to by 1 February 2018. A limited number of postgraduate travel bursaries are available; please state if you wish to be considered when you submit your abstract.

We’re also keen to hear from you about ideas for potential blog posts, future workshops, conferences or other projects to promote a North West Medical Humanities PGR Network so do get in touch if you’d like to be involved.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Natalie Mullen and Erin Bramwell

CfP North West Interdisciplinary Medical Humanities Postgraduate Workshop, Lancaster University, 19 April 2018

We warmly invite participants to a one-day workshop at Lancaster University that focuses on the value of alternative methodologies in the medical humanities. Although our primary focus is North West based PGRs, we are also keen to welcome ECRs and participants from other institutions working in the medical humanities. We are particularly interested in bringing together researchers from numerous disciplines, including, but not limited to, history, sociology, English literature and language, linguistics, medicine, computer science, and psychology.

Topics for discussion include, but are not limited to:

  • Interdisciplinary research methodologies
  • Medical spaces and landscapes
  • Medicine and literature
  • Medicines as emotional and material objects
  • Medicine and the senses
  • Policy and healthcare
  • Photography
  • Linguistic and corpus-based approaches

Keynote address given by Dr James Stark (University of Leeds).

The workshop is intended for postgraduate students in any discipline whose work relates to the medical humanities. The event is free.

To apply, send an abstract of 250 words for a 20 minute paper and a short biographical statement to by 1 February 2018. A limited number of postgraduate travel bursaries are available; please state if you wish to be considered when you submit your abstract.


Header image: Four scenes of caricatural Mediaeval/Renaissance medical practitioners by Madeleine Kuijper Illustraties. Wellcome Images.