CFP: edited collection, ‘Dissecting the Page: Medical Paratexts, Medieval to Modern’

From Christina Lee and Freya Harrison’s discovery of the MRSA-combatting properties of an Anglo-Saxon recipe, to the increasing popularity of Ian Williams’ Graphic Medicine as a teaching tool for medical students, current research into the intersections between medicine, text, and image is producing dynamic and unexpected results (Thorpe: 2015; Lee and Harrison: 2015; Taavitsainen: 2010; Couser: 2009; Cioffi: 2009; Díaz-Vera: 2009). Recent years have seen conferences on paratextual research, and a range of events orientated around literature and medicine. The purpose of this edited collection is to open up wider scholarship into medical paratexts, spanning pragmatics, literary studies, and the medical humanities.

We propose that the breadth of research into medical book history in the medieval and early-modern period will prompt productive and innovative overlaps with work on modern medical paratexts. We understand paratext as the apparatus of graphic communication: title pages, prefaces, illustrations, marginalia, and publishing details which act as mediators between text and reader. Discussing the development of medical paratexts across scribal, print and digital media, from the medieval period to the twenty-first century, the collection will be provisionally structured in three chronological sections: Anglo-Saxon and Medieval, Early Modern, and Modern periods.

We are now looking for academics, artists, and medical professionals to submit abstracts on topics pertaining to medical paratexts. We invite proposals on topics that include (but are not limited to):

  • the role of the medical preface
  • graphic medicine in popular culture
  • medicine, illness, and/or disability and graphic novels
  • the development and role of medical (and medicalised) illustrations
  • the advertising and placement of texts depicting medicine/illness/disability
  • the development of paratext in medical texts from script to print
  • the use and readers of medical texts
  • auto/biography and medicine
  • online medical writing, publishing, and paratexts

We have received initial interest from Palgrave Macmillan about the proposal, and intend to submit a full proposal for a Palgrave Pivot edited collection of approximately 40,000 words. Key benefits of the Pivot model include publication within three months of acceptance of final manuscripts, flexible length, peer review, and availability in e-book and hardback formats.

  • The provisional timeline for the collection is as follows:
  • January: deadline for abstracts (500-700 words)
  • May: first drafts of articles submitted to editors (4000-4500 word chapters)
  • June: article drafts returned with comments
  • August: final proofs submitted to Palgrave
  • December: publication of edited collection.

Please email an abstract of 500-700 words and a short bio to the conference organisers (Dr Hannah Tweed and Dr Diane Scott) at by Sunday 10th January 2016. We will respond with decisions on chapters by the end of January 2016.

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