CFP: Methods of Health Humanities

CFP: Methods of Health Humanities

Chapter proposals due July 1, 2017

The health humanities are taking shape as a unique field of study, promoted through international organizations and journals, formalized through a wide variety of curricular structures with similarly varied learning objectives. This diversity raises the question of what counts, or doesn’t count, as health humanities?  While the field is being defined through a variety of venues and publications, this proposed edited volume is interested specifically in health humanities methodology.  What methods fall within the health humanities?  Are there any methods unique to the health humanities?

This proposed volume, Methods in Health Humanities, will explore the research methodologies that are encompassed in this field. This call for chapter proposals is looking for scholars who identify as working in the health humanities to write about the methods they use in their research.

We use the term health humanities in place of medical humanities intentionally. The term “medical humanities” was coined in 1947 by George Sarton in the History of Science Society journal he founded, ISIS (Bates, Bleakley & Goodman 2014). Beginning with art, history, literature, religious studies, and philosophy, the field expanded to include law, narrative writing, sociology, anthropology, and the fine arts. As programs have expanded from professional and graduate education to include baccalaureate majors, minors and certificates, the field has broadened from medicine to all of the health professions, and is developing unique traditions within different national contexts.  This inclusivity and international reach is better described by the term “health humanities” (Jones, Blackie, Garden, Wear 2017; Crawford, Brown & Baker 2015).

While current scholarship in the health humanities is informed by diverse methods, little of it focuses on methodology. Much contemporary writing in the health humanities focuses on curricular content, instructor training, assessment of teaching humanities in the medical school, and professional skills (such as critical thinking, empathy, moral reasoning, communication, and comfort with ambiguity) developed through the arts and humanities.  Current textbooks in the health humanities focus on key topics and content areas in medicine and health. For example, look at the Health Humanities Reader (Jones, Wear, Friedman 2014) and Medical Humanities: An Introduction (Cole, Carlin, Carson 2014).  Other books have looked at how diverse disciplines connect with the field of health humanities (Health Humanities, Crawford, Brown & Baker 2015) or focus on how interdisciplinary thinking can change our view of the human through critical inquiry (The Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities; Whitehead & Woods 2016).

This volume seeks to add to the growing literature on what health humanities is and why it is valuable, by asking the question: how do we do health humanities? What are our methodologies? We define a method as a technique or process that one uses in order to generate original knowledge, understanding or insight. We are interested in the ways that health humanities knowledge and insight are created, which may or may not correspond to the methods of traditional disciplines. For example, a chapter may teach readers about close reading, contextual analysis, participant-observation, surveys, historiography, reflective writing, life history, case analysis, epistemology, discourse analysis, hermeneutics, , field experiments, correlational research, digital humanities, or deception experiments to name a few. This list is not meant to be exhaustive but to generate some ideas of what we mean by methods.

Drawing on a specific illustration of a method used in your own scholarship, each chapter should provide an explanation aimed at a non-specialist audience of how you apply the method in your research.  What steps do you take?  What techniques and skills do you employ?  As methods are used across fields and disciplines, each chapter should additionally speak to how and why the identified method provides a useful approach to health humanities research in particular: For what kinds of health humanities inquiry is this method well-suited? What kinds of insights, conclusions, outcomes, etc., does it allow a researcher to draw?  Conversely, what are the limits of this method in terms of health humanities knowledge production? The volume is aimed at an advanced undergraduate/ graduate student audience. Each chapter will ultimately begin with an abstract and set of learning objectives, and will end with a closing synopsis, one or more suggested exercises through which students may practice this method, and a list of further resources and examples.

If you are interested in contributing to this volume, please prepare an abstract of 500-1,000 words. Be sure to discuss not only a specific research method but also an example of when you used this method in your health humanities research. Please additionally include a brief bio paragraph that speaks to your training and scholarship. Final chapter lengths will depend on the number and variety of proposals received.

Please submit your proposal by July 1, 2018 to both Craig Klugman and Erin Lamb at Also, feel free to contact us with any questions.