Thursday, November 22, 2012

British Society for Literature and Science Conference 2013 – Call for Papers

This conference would welcome perspectives from Medical Humanities.

The British Society for Literature and Science invites proposals for papers and panels to be delivered at its eighth annual conference to be held in Cardiff, 11-13 April 2013.

The BSLS Conference does not have a theme (as it its usual practise) but especially welcomes proposals on the state of the field of literature and science as well as its relation to other fields. This year we would be particularly interested to receive proposals that reflect upon the interdisciplinary study of literature and science in the context of the debate about the present position of the humanities in academia. However, the Society remains committed to supporting proposals on all aspects of literature and science across all periods.

Proposals for papers of 15-20 minutes should be sent in the body of the email text (no attachments, please), to with the subject line ‘BSLS 2013 abstract’. Submissions should include the title of the paper, an abstract of no more than 300 words, a maximum of 3 keywords (placed at the end of the abstract), and the name and contact details of the speaker.

Closing date for submissions: 7 December 2012.

(Decisions will be made in January 2013)

Contributors interested in organising a panel or other special session, or who have suggestions for alternative forms of conference presentation, are warmly encouraged to contact the conference organisers. The organisers would welcome, for example, workshops on teaching literature and science, or on specific themes in literature and science that cross period boundaries, or on specific published works with considerable influence in the field. Please email the organisers on, using ‘BSLS 2013 Panel’ as the subject line in email correspondence.

Funding: a bursary of £150 will be awarded to a graduate student on the basis on the paper proposals. The student must be registered for a masters or doctoral degree on 9 January 2013. The conference fee will be waived for two further graduate students in exchange for written reports on the conference, to be published in the subsequent issue of the BSLS Newsletter. If you are interested in being selected for one of these places, please mention this when sending in your proposal.
Accommodation: please note that those attending will need to make their own arrangements for accommodation. Information on selected hotels will be available shortly on the conference website. As in previous years, we anticipate that the conference will begin at about 1pm on the first day and conclude at about 2pm on the last.
Membership: in order to attend the conference, you must be a paid-up member of the BSLS for 2013. We anticipate that it will be possible to pay the £10 annual membership fee when paying the conference fee online.


Visit the conference website 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

It's time for the annual Medical Humanities art exhibition at Imperial. There is a really high standard of work this year (as always!), dealing with a range of interesting ideas.

Retelling tales of Pregnancy and Birth conference update

There is now a full programme for this conference here. Helen King, conference organiser, has also let me know that thanks to generous funding from the Wellcome (love them!), the registration fee is very low, especially for post-graduates.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Poet Sheila Black considers pain, disability, selfhood and ‘the problem of normal’

Interesting blog posting by Robin Amer about how poet Sheila Black has been inspired by the depictions of pain and selfhood evident in the work of Freida Kahlo.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Medical Humanities and Engagement Grants

Medical Humanities and Engagement (MH&E) Grants provides funding for high-quality research and activities in the fields of medical humanities and public engagement with biomedical science. They aim to build and maintain research capacity in medical history and biomedical ethics while capitalising on opportunities to support the broader medical humanities.

The team manages the funding committees and associated budgets for the division’s grant programmes, monitors active grant portfolios, reports on outcomes and outputs of grants, evaluates the impact of Trust-funded projects and supports grantholders with their awards.

Details of the internship

You will be involved in capturing and presenting the outcomes of our funded research and activities. You will get a sense of what and how we fund, and you will have the opportunity to meet researchers and science communicators and attend some funded events.

In addition, you will help to plan and deliver public engagement grantholder packs and work with advisors to develop a framework for creative workshops in public engagement, helping to develop our grant-making capacity. You will also help to coordinate the planning and implementation of an event to celebrate five years of the Arts Awards.

Specific requirements

In addition to meeting the general eligibility criteria, you will need to be studying for a degree in life sciences or medical humanities and have good writing and communication skills. Some previous experience of devising and collating content for the web would be useful, and an interest in the work of the MH&E Division (in particular, science communication, public engagement, medical humanities, the history of medicine and/or biomedical ethics) will be an advantage.

More details here

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Retelling familiar tales of pregnancy and birth in European cultures

CALL FOR PAPERS: Retelling familiar tales of pregnancy and birth in European cultures

Tues 3rd-Weds 4th July 2012, Oxford

Purpose of conference

This conference aims to bring together leading specialists from a range of the medical humanities with healthcare professionals to explore the trope of the retelling of stories about pregnancy and birth. While recent work has considered the way in which stories of exceptional pregnancies and unusual births have been told again and again over western history, from Greek mythology and the Old Testament until the present day, the methodological and intellectual questions raised by these retellings have not been discussed in detail. Taking a very broad geographic and chronological focus (Europe from Antiquity to the present day), our objective is to encourage innovative interdisciplinary exchanges by addressing the following questions. How did the growth of print culture in Europe encourage the retelling of familiar birthing tales, and how were new ones added? Why did some stories of pregnancy and birth circulate more widely than others? When stories are retold, which details of the original are always retained, which are lost in the retelling, and how and why do new accretions creep into the story?


The gathering particularly looks to provide the opportunity for discussion and exchange on both substance and methodology between, on the one hand, a wide range of academic disciplines contributing to the medical humanities (e.g. cultural history, art history, history of the book, literary scholars) and, on the other hand, health-care practitioners who have been increasingly focused on the oral transmission of case histories (midwives, obstetricians and gynaecologists, psychiatrists). The four sessions proposed are thus wide-ranging and deliberately aim to juxtapose contributions from academics and practitioners in the various sessions.

1) The trope of repetition, or why some tales of pregnancy and birth are retold

2) Exploring accretion and loss: how tales are retold across time (Antiquity to the present) and across different geographic and cultural European contexts

3) Who sees or experiences, who tells and who reads repeated tales: patients, practitioners, witnesses and readers:

4) The significance of the material circulation of repeated tales in word and image

Keynote plenary session: Professor Monica Green (Arizona State University)

Practical Details

The conference sessions, including lunches and dinners, will be held in Lady Margaret Hall, a college of the University of Oxford, located in attractive grounds in the north of the city. We are looking to provide bed and breakfast accommodation in another Oxford college for the nights of 2-3-4 July 2012 for delegates who wish to take advantage of this. Alternatively, Oxford has a range of good guesthouses and hotels for those wishing to organise their own accommodation. We hope to have some bursary support available for students.

Submitting a proposal for a paper

Please email all proposals for papers to Professor Helen King ( by 3 April 2012. Papers should last for 20 minutes to allow 10 minutes discussion after each speaker. A proposal should give the title of the paper, an abstract of up to 400 words, and your contact details. Proposals for shared papers or panels are particularly welcome, as are poster presentations. The working language of the conference will be English.

All proposals will be considered by the organising panel: Professor Helen King (Open University), Dr Janette Allotey (Manchester, Chair of De Partu History of Childbirth Group, University of Manchester, and Professor Valerie Worth (Trinity College Oxford)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book surgery

Artist Brian Dettmer turns old reference books into new works of art using surgical tools. Isn't this gorgeous?