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Attentive Writers: Healthcare, Authorship and Authority

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Attentive Writers: Healthcare, Authorship and Authority Conference held at the University of Glasgow, 23-25 August 2013

From nurses, physicians and surgeons to administrators, caregivers, technicians, veterinarians and voluntary sector workers, this conference adopted the term ‘attentive writers’ as evocative of the multitude of both non-professional and professional caregivers – clinical and non-clinical healthcare workers – whose attention to illness might take narrative form. The study of physician-writers was one of the earliest developments in the related fields of Literature and Medicine and the Medical Humanities, with canonical figures such as Conan Doyle, Goldsmith, Keats, Smollett, and William Carlos Williams, receiving much-deserved critical attention. Echoing Rita Charon’s concept of ’attentiveness’, this conference bought this established field of enquiry regarding ‘the physician as writer’ into dialogue with recent calls for a more inclusive approach to the Medical Humanities (i.e. ‘Health Humanities’) and questions the authoritative place of the Western – traditionally male – physician in our explorations of the humanities/health interface.

The relationship between healthcare, authorship and authority was addressed through three inter-related strands of thematic enquiry: (1) an historical and literary examination of ‘attentive writers’; (2) a more devolved interrogation of the field of Narrative Medicine; and (3) an examination of ‘attentive writing’ as creative practice.

Funded by:  University of Glasgow, Wellcome Trust

Main contact:  Dr Megan Coyer

Start date:  2013

End date:  2013


Keywords: AnatomyAnimalsCareCreative WritingCreativityHealthHistory of MedicineIllness NarrativesLiteratureLiterature and MedicineMedicineNursingPhysician-writersTherapyVeterinary Medical Humanities

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