Past Event

Explorations in the Medical Humanities Workshop

March 29, 2019 - March 30, 2019
1:00 PM - 6:00 PM
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Heyman Center, Columbia University, New York

Event Description:

As a set of disciplines, the humanities face the challenge of how to write about embodied experiences that resist easy verbal categorization such as illness, pain, and healing. The recent emergence of interdisciplinary frameworks such as narrative medicine has offered a set of methodological approaches to address these challenges. Conceptualizing a field of medical humanities provides a broad umbrella under which to study the influence of medico-scientific ideas and practices on society. Whether by incorporating material culture such as medical artifacts, performing symptomatic readings of poems and novels, or excavating the implicit medical assumptions underlying auditory cultures, the approaches that emerge from a historiographical or interpretive framework are different from those coming from the physician’s black bag.

This two-day workshop will continue the work of the Explorations in the Medical Humanities lecture series from 2017-2018, with a new emphasis on creating an interdisciplinary conversation between scholars from a variety of institutions. By bringing scholars working in the medical humanities to Columbia and inviting them to present their work-in-progress to our local experts, our workshop will explore the enigma of how what we write relates back to the experience of bodies in different stages of health and disease. Our speakers will explore how the medical humanities build on and revise earlier notions of the “medical arts.” At stake are the problems of representation and the interpretation of cultural products from the past and present through medical models, and the challenge of establishing a set of humanistic competencies (observation, attention, judgment, narrative, historical perspective, ethics, creativity) that can inform medical practice.

Event Information:

This event is free and open to the public. ID is required to access the building. The conference schedule is available via the program

Please email Arden Hegele at [email protected] with any questions. 

  • Dr. Arden Hegele (Society of Fellows in the Humanities / English)
  • Dr. Rishi Goyal (Institute for Comparative Literature and Society: Medicine, Literature and Society)
  • Dr. Lan Li (Center for Science and Society, Presidential Scholars in Society and Neuroscience)
  • Dr. Joelle Abi-Rached (Society of Fellows in the Humanities / History and Middle East, South Asian and African Studies)