MHRNS Workshop 2

October 8th 2011

Workshop Research Theme: “Theory into Practice”

Note: Attendance at MHRNS Workshops is by invite only. If you are interested in putting your name forward as a potential guest participant, please contact the Project Assistant, Dr. Linden Bicket, at Symposiums and public lectures will be open to the wider academic community and general public.

Overview of ‘Theory into Practice’ Theme

The medical humanities is a field informed by both clinical applications and less directly engaged humanities’ scholarship. This theme asks academics, clinicians, and artistic practitioners to undertake a respectful but critical dialogue on the challenges of the reciprocating motion that takes place between the two poles of the discipline. Research may include, but is not limited to, problematic areas such as the reductive dangers of retrospective diagnosis in historical and literary analysis; the possible narrowing of the relevance of philosophy and law to issues solely of medical ethics; the challenges of therapeutic models of artistic production and reception (e.g. in the cultivation of “empathy” via literary reading and writing); etc.

Discussion Articles

G. S. Rousseau, ‘Literature and Medicine: Towards a Simultaneity of Theory and Practice’, Literature and Medicine, 5 (1986), 152-81

Brian Hurwitz, ‘Form and Representation in Clinical Case Reports’, Literature and Medicine, 25.2 (Fall 2006), 216-40

Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan, ‘What Can Narrative Theory Learn from Illness Narrative’, Literature and Medicine, 25.2 (Fall 2006), 241-54

Workshop Guidelines

Following on from our last workshop, our second meeting will include briefer introductions for the benefit of new guests and collaborators unable to make the last workshop and will also provide the opportunity for collaborators to update the network on any new developments in their research. No formal presentations will be required, but at the start of proceedings collaborators will be asked to introduce themselves and give a necessarily brief (2 mins) account of their disciplinary background, research interests and current engagement with medical humanities.

For the discussion sessions, we are inviting everyone to reflect upon the practical applications of their own work (clinical or otherwise) and of the field more broadly. To this end we have structured the rest of the day around two small-group discussions (with informal reporting back) focussing on three short essays relating to our theme, “Theory into Practice”. Articles by Rousseau, Hurwitz and Rimmon-Kenan will be supplied electronically in advance. In our morning session, we will be discussing the Rousseau article and reflecting upon the theorisation of ‘Literature and Medicine’ as a discipline and its utilitarian potentials. In the afternoon session, the Hurwitz and Rimmon-Kenan articles will be examined as two particular examples of narrative theory in practice, and also as exemplary of a potentially synergistic relationship between the medical humanities and its convergent disciplines.

Do bear in mind that everyone will have the opportunity to give formal presentations at one of the two scheduled symposia. The first symposium, building on the themes of the first two workshops, will take place at a date in March 2012. We also invite collaborators to draw upon the workshop discussions in formulating a “Humanities and Medicine” position paper of around 2000 words, which we will make available as a downloadable .pdf from the website. These are intended to be informal transpositions of scholarly research into a more accessible register, and are intended for use by the interested general reader, policy makers, the media, and as a “port of entry” to the medical humanities for clinicians. For a model, see the History & Policy website papers. We hope to have some of these papers up on the site by early 2012.

LOCATION: Old Medical School, Teviot Row, Edinburgh.


Doors Open from 9.30

10am – 11am: Brief Introductory Address by Conveners (GM and DS).
Followed by collaborators’ informal introductions

11am – 12 noon: Session 1: Small group discussion 1 (Rousseau essay)

12pm - 12.30pm “Report Back” Discussion (chaired by DS/GM)

12.30pm – 2pm Lunch

2pm – 3pm: Session 2: Small group discussion 2 (Hurwitz and Rimmon-Kenan)

3pm – 4pm “Report Back” Discussion and concluding remarks (chaired by DS/GM)

4pm Formal End of Proceedings

Reclaiming travel expenses: Named collaborators and invited guests wishing to claim for travel expenses should contact the project assistant, Dr. Megan Coyer, at to request a claim-form. Please remember to keep all receipts for travel if you intend to claim for expenses.