Joseph Wood


I am interested in the way that people express their experiences of pain, death, dying and grief. My English Literature PhD project at the University of Glasgow focuses on the legacy of the idea of 'total pain' as used by the hospice pioneer Cicely Saunders.

I am a member of the Glasgow End of Life Studies Group and the Glasgow Medical Humanities Network.

My research is supported by an Arts and Humanities Research Council Studentship through the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities.

Research Interests

  • History of the hospice movement
  • Cicely Saunders
  • Medical Humanities
  • Narrative at the end of life


University of Glasgow, Rutherford/McCowan Building, Crichton University Campus, Dumfries DG1 4ZL, Scotland


Thesis Title

Cicely Saunders and the Legacies of ‘Total Pain’


My project examines the conceptual background to the idea of 'total pain' used by the hospice pioneer Cicely Saunders.

Using Saunders own published papers and private notes and correspondence alongside the literary, philosophical and theological texts which informed her work, I am investigating the theoretical heritage of a term that is often described as a touchstone concept in palliative and end-of-life care but is rarely the focus of research.

Using perspectives from medical humanities, narrative medicine and philosophies of care, I hope to assess how far 'total pain' can be understood as a narrative concept and its relation to issues of holism, non-verbal communication, and silence.



I have a BA English Literature (Durham, First Class, 2012) and secured a Wellcome Trust Masters Studentship for an MSc in Medical Humanities (King’s College London, Distinction, 2016).


Krawczyk, M. , Wood, J. and Clark, D. (2018) Total pain: origins, current practice, and future directions. Omsorg: The Norwegian Journal of Palliative Care, 2018(2)

Wood, J. (2018) Review: Somebody I Used to Know by Wendy Mitchell with Anna Wharton, The Kelvingrove Review, Issue 17: (Re)Creation, July 2018

Wood, J. (2018) Review: Cicely Saunders: A Life and Legacy by David ClarkBMJ: Medical Humanities Blog, online, September 2018

Wood, J. (2019) Review: Meaning-making Methods for Coping with Serious IllnessThe Polyphony: Conversations Across the Medical Humanities, online, January 2018

Wood, J. (2019) Fragments and Silences: Rethinking Narrative in End-of-Life CareThe Polyphony: Conversations Across the Medical Humanities, online, June 2019


I am Tutor on Society & Social Policy (DUMF1066) and 1A: Poetry and Poetics (1011)