Workshop: Medical Humanities and Ageing, 10/12/2014

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An initiative of the CHCI Medical Humanities Network Program, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI)

Date: Wednesday 10th December 2014

Location: K0.31 (Small Committee Room), King’s Building, King’s College London, Strand Campus, Strand, London WC2R 2LS

The Centre for the Humanities and Health, King’s College London, would like to invite you to our first workshop on medical humanities and ageing. We are one of the six CHCI member centres and institutes working on a project to further the development of medical humanities as a subject of study: each partnering centre conducts specific research on ageing, undergirded by collaborative reflection on issues of evidence, value, and evaluation.


10:00 – 10.30: Welcome

10:30 – 11:30: Panel: Fragile Persons

Dr Lucy Burke, Manchester Metropolitan University

Dr Martina Zimmerman, King’s College London

11:30 – 12:00: Coffee break

12:00 – 13:00: Panel: Old Age and Community Networks

Professor Pat Thane, King’s College London

Dr Hannah Zeilig, University of the Arts, London

13:00 – 13:30: Concluding remarks

Seating is limited, so if you would like to attend, please contact Dr Maria Vaccarella ( by Monday 1st December 2014 

Medical Humanities at King’s College London: An Integrative Meeting

When: 30th June and 1st July 2014
Where: Royal College of Physicians of London

Since 2009 the Centre for the Humanities and Health (CHH) at King’s has conducted a multi-stranded research programme entitled ‘The Boundaries of Illness’ funded by the Wellcome Trust. The programme has consisted of six distinct yet overlapping strands of work grounded in a variety of disciplines:
• Distress and disorder (philosophy and psychiatry)
• Concepts of health (philosophy)
• Nursing and identity: Crossing borders (nursing, literature and film studies)
• Cultural and historical forces in psychiatric diagnoses (psychiatry, history of medicine)
• Illness narrative (literature)
• Case studies of medical portraiture (history of art).

The purpose of this meeting is to share our findings with the wider Medical Humanities community, explore intellectual exchange between strands and initiate further cross-disciplinary working in the field. The PIs on the award, PhD students and postdocs, will put their work into the wider context of the Medical Humanities to focus on the question of integration itself and why it seems an important issue within the field today.

Monday June 30th Council Room
08.50 – 09.15 Registration with tea & coffee

09.15 – 10.00 Welcome and introductions Brian Hurwitz

10.00 – 11.30 Distress and disorder
Speaker: Derek Bolton
Respondent: MM McCabe
Chair: Silvia Camporesi

11.30 – 11.45 Tea and coffee

11.45 – 13.15 Concepts of health
Speaker: MM McCabe
Respondent: Derek Bolton
Chair: Brian Hurwitz

13.15 – 14.15 Lunch
Tour of portraits and exhibition
Ludmilla Jordanova and Keren Hammerschlag

14.15 – 15.45 Nursing and identity: Crossing Borders
Speakers: Anne Marie Rafferty, Jessica Howell
& Elisabetta Babini
Respondent: Edgar Jones
Chair: James Whitehead

15.45 – 16.00 Tea and coffee

16.00 – 17.30 Cultural and historical influences on psychiatric diagnosis
Speakers: Edgar Jones, Bonnie Evans, Stefanie Linden
Respondent: Anne Marie Rafferty
Chair: Keren Hammerschlag

17.30 – 17.45 Refreshment Break

17.45 – 19.00 Keynote: Medical Humanities and the Idea of Democratic Criticism
Stuart Murray, Professor of Contemporary Literatures and Film and Director of the Leeds Centre for Medical Humanities followed by questions and discussion.
Chair: Brian Hurwitz

19.00 – 20.30 Drinks

Tuesday July 1st Dorchester Library

09.10 – 09.30 Arrival tea & coffee

09.30 – 10.30 PhD and Postdoctoral Session

Speakers: Emma Bullock, Silvia Camporesi, Monika Class,
Keren Hammerschlag, Jessica Howell, Elselijn Kingma, Maria Vaccarella, James Whitehead
Respondent: Ludmilla Jordanova
Chair: Ben Chisnall

10.30 – 11.30 Tour of portraits and exhibition
Ludmilla Jordanova and Keren Hammerschlag

11.30 – 11.45 Tea & coffee

11.45 – 13.15 Illness narratives
Speaker: Neil Vickers
Respondent: Ludmilla Jordanova
Chair: Jessica Howell

13.15 – 14.15 Lunch

14.15 – 15.45 Case studies of medical portraiture
Speaker: Ludmilla Jordanova
Respondent: Neil Vickers
Chair: Elselijn Kingma

15.45 – 16.00 Tea and coffee

16.00 – 17.00 Cross strand synergies: the Medical Humanities today
Discussion led by Alan Cribb, Professor of Bioethics & Education, Co-director of the Centre for Public Policy Research, King’s College London

This event is by invitation only. For any inquiries please email Sabrina Beck:

Annual Lecture in the History of Health & Medicine: Becoming Autoimmune: Immunological Histories of the Modern Self

We are delighted to announce that Professor Warwick Anderson, from the University of Sydney, will give the Annual Lecture in the History of Health & Medicine, on Wednesday 16th April 2014, with title “Becoming Autoimmune: Immunological Histories of the Modern Self”.

While Macfarlane Burnet and others were elaborating on the idea of the immune ‘self’, patients with autoimmune diseases were doing their own ‘biographical work’, tending to the self of chronic illness experience.

Prof Warwick Anderson

Prof Warwick Anderson

Burnet was aware that any theory of antibody production must explain pathologies of immunity such as autoimmune disease, where the body mounts an immunological response to its own tissues, responding to self as though it were not self. Certainly, clinical immunologists came to see autoimmune disease as the pathology of self-recognition. But through the 1960s and 1970s, the clinical hegemony of the immune self was limited. Patients with definite or putative autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and chronic active hepatitis, to name just a few, rarely imagined their illness as a form of immunological hyper-reactivity or sensitivity to self. Yet at the same time, they were engaged in a related form of biographical work, incited by the experience of chronic illness. For many, chronic illness found expression in a language of loss—in particular, the loss of self—a language more meaningful and profound, if less elegant conceptually, than the discourse of self and not-self articulated in immunology. While clinical immunologists sought to restore the integrity of the body, to lessen reactivity to self, through suppressing immune responses, patients tried through social means to restore a sense of self, to reclaim or reconstitute a self displaced by chronic illness and disability. There was thus a congruence of thought styles between immunologists and sufferers of chronic illness, with both groups favouring a physiological rather than an ontological mode—without apparent intellectual contact. Using Burnet’s archive and selections from patient records and literary studies, I will discuss the pathos of these uncoordinated selfs in the 1960s and 1970s.


Warwick Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., is an ARC Laureate Fellow and Professor in the Department of History and the Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine at the University of Sydney. Previously, he taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, UCSF, UC-Berkeley, the University of Melbourne, and Harvard University. His books include “The Cultivation of Whiteness: Science, Health and Racial Destiny in Australia (Melbourne 2002; Duke 2006); Colonial Pathologies: American Tropical Medicine, Race, and Hygiene in the Philippines (Duke 2006; Ateneo de Manila 2007); and The Collectors of Lost Souls: Turning Kuru Scientists into Whitemen (Johns Hopkins 2008), which was awarded the William H. Welch Medal of the American Association of the History of Medicine (2010), and the Ludwik Fleck Award of the Society for Social Studies of Science (2010). He is currently completing (with Ian R. Mackay) a book on the conceptual history of autoimmunity, Intolerant Bodies: A Short History of Autoimmunity (Johns Hopkins, 2014).

The Annual Lecture is a collaborative Kings College London event by the Centre for the Humanities and Health and Centre for Science, Technology and Medicine with special thanks to the Department of History for support. The welcome will be given by the Principal of Kings College London, Professor Sir Rick Trainor, KBE.

Wednesday 16th April 2014
5pm – 6.30pm
Anatomy Lecture Theatre (K6.29), Strand Campus, London

Drinks Reception to follow 6.30pm – 8.00pm, Anatomy Museum