CFP: ‘Attentive Writers’: Healthcare, Authorship, and Authority

Call for Papers: ‘Attentive Writers’: Healthcare, Authorship, and Authority

Medical Humanities Research Centre, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom

23-25 August 2013

Conference Committee: Dr. David Shuttleton, Dr. Gavin Miller, Dr.

Elizabeth Reeder, and Dr. Megan Coyer

http://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/critical/research/conferences/attentivewriters/

From nurses, physicians and surgeons to administrators, caregivers, technicians, veterinarians and voluntary sector workers, this conference adopts the term ‘attentive writers’ as evocative of the multitude of both non-professional and professional caregivers – clinical and non-clinical healthcare workers – whose attention to illness might take narrative form. The study of physician-writers was one of the earliest developments in the related fields of Literature and Medicine and the Medical Humanities, with canonical figures such as Conan Doyle, Goldsmith, Keats, Smollett, and William Carlos Williams, receiving much-deserved critical attention. Echoing Rita Charon’s concept of ’attentiveness’, this conference brings this established field of enquiry regarding ‘the physician as writer’ into dialogue with recent calls for a more inclusive approach to the Medical Humanities (i.e. ‘Health Humanities’) and questions the authoritative place of the Western – traditionally male – physician in our explorations of the humanities/health interface.

The relationship between healthcare, authorship and authority will be addressed through three inter-related strands of thematic enquiry: (1) an historical and literary examination of ‘attentive writers’; (2) a more devolved interrogation of the field of Narrative Medicine; and (3) an examination of ‘attentive writing’ as creative practice. Papers might address, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • Nurse-writers, physician-writers, surgeon-writers, veterinarian-writers, etc. of any culture, historical period or literary epoch, and/or nurses, physicians, surgeons, and vets as literary subjects
  • Non-clinical healthcare workers (adminstrators, janitors, technicians, etc.) as writers and/or literary subjects The literature of caregiving
  • Gender and medical authority
  • Historical development of medical and literary professionalism
  • The afterlife of Foucault’s ‘medical gaze’
  • Hybrid discourses and genres (the case history, illness narratives, etc.)
  • Narrative Medicine (and, particularly, does it challenge or reinforce the notion of physician as sole author/authority) and related developments in professionalism and education
  • The philosophy of attentiveness in healthcare and creative writing
  • ‘Attentive writing’ as creative practice; including ‘process oriented’ writing practices and those primarily concerned with the creation of aesthetically valuable outcomes.

For Creative Writers: We’re particularly looking for papers and readings from creative writers in all genres whose writing is rooted in questions about, experiences of or research into issues of illness, caregiving, and medicine. We are also interested in how creativity may be impacted by any of these. We’re particularly interested in discussing how our subjects, genres, research and craft exist in tension and help to produce expansive and important contributions to literature. For the most part, these contributions should move beyond writing as reflection, to literary writing that complicates and communicates knowledge and experiences of issues currently falling within the frame of medical/health humanities.

Abstracts of up to 500 words should be submitted, along with a short biography (no more than 250 words), to arts-attentivewriters@glasgow.ac.uk by 4 March 2013 (note the extended date). Any queries may also be directed to: megan.coyer@glasgow.ac.uk