Upcoming Events: Medical Humanities at Birkbeck Arts Week, 20-24 May 2019

There are lots of medical humanities-related events and a special exhibition taking place as part of this year’s Birkbeck Arts Week. Please see below for details:

EXHIBITION: I Run & Run, Let Out An Earth Shattering Roar, and Turn Into a Giant Octopussy, Kai Syng Tan (2018) #magiccarpet

20 May – 24 May | Room 106, 43 Gordon Square, 9am-9pm | No booking required.

This tapestry is the result of a collaboration between artist Kai Syng Tan and Philip Asherson, Professor of Psychiatry at King’s College London, exploring mind-wandering, ADHD, and the creative process. Woven at Flanders Tapestries, Belgium, the work is described by Tan as follows: “Colourful and overworked, the tapestry is a snapshot of my hyperactive mind. Flitting in and out of reason and legibility, there’s death, sex, surrealism, My Little Pony and terminologies on ‘abnormalities’ of the brain that I’d learnt as the first artist-in-residence at the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre.”

The tapestry will be on display from 9am-9pm throughout Birkbeck Arts Week (20-24 May), including for a special reception after the Too Much/Not Enough event on the 21st, where the artist will be present. Visitors can also chat with the artist during the exhibition on Monday 20th (11am-3pm), Tuesday 21st (12pm-3pm), Wednesday 22nd (9am-3pm), and Friday 24th (12pm-9pm). For more details, click here.

Telling stories about syphilis | 4-5pm Monday 21st May | Book your ticket

Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square.

What was it? How did we find it? And who had it? Syphilis is a disease whose symptoms and circumstances, across the centuries, made it peculiarly compelling and challenging to understand. How do we analyse something so deeply mythologised?

Too much/not enough: neurodiversity and cultural production | 6-7.20pm Tuesday 21st May | Book your ticket

Room G04, 43 Gordon Square

Screening and workshop with artist Kai Syng Tan, curator Alessandra Cianetti, and literary researcher Sophie Jones exploring the aesthetics of neurodiversity and discussing the place of invisible disabilities in the cultural industries. In connection with the #magiccarpet exhibition.

Sickness and cure in Emile Zola’s Rougon-Macquart Novels | 7.40-8.45pm Tuesday 21st May | Book your ticket

Room 104, 43 Gordon Square

How is sickness expressed in Emile Zola’s novels? Focusing on his twenty-volume Rougon-Macquart cycle, this discussion traces the transformation from sickness to redemption from the first to the final book, in the context of Zola’s France in the late nineteenth-century.

Birkbeck Medical Humanities Reading Group

6 June 2019, 14.30-16.00, Room 106, 43 Gordon Square

The next session of the reading group, led by Dr Anne Hanley, will focus on the doctor-patient relationship, with a particular focus on questions of care and the ethics of care. The readings are:

·         Rachel Clarke, Your Life in My Hands: A Junior Doctor’s Story (London: Metro Books, 2017), chapter 6 (‘Callousness’).

·         Sally Wilde, ‘The Elephants in the Doctor-Patient Relationship: Patients’ Clinical Interactions and the Changing Surgical Landscape of the 1890s’, Health and History (2007): 2–27.

The readings for each session are held in a shared Dropbox folder. If you need access, email sophie.jones@bbk.ac.uk (include your Dropbox-linked email address, if you have one).

Save the date for the subsequent session on 4 July, 14.30-16.00, which will be led by Dr Rebekah Cupitt with a focus on deaf ways of seeing through film-making techniques and visual media technologies. Details of readings will be sent out closer to the time.

Everyone is welcome at the reading group. There is no need to book. For directions to our Bloomsbury campus please see http://www.bbk.ac.uk/maps. An access guide to the building is available at AccessAble https://www.accessable.co.uk/venues/school-of-arts.

The Birkbeck Medical Humanities Reading Group aims to create a space in which academics, clinicians and students can come together to explore key readings, ideas and materials in the field of medical humanities. Our endeavour is to find ways of talking across the different disciplines of the humanities and medicine, and we welcome participation from colleagues and students interested and engaged in these areas. For details of previous sessions, please click here.


Lecture by Professor Elizabeth Freeman – Committed to the End: On Care Work and Rereading

Friday 24th May, 18:00-20:00, Birkbeck College, Clore Management Centre

This paper will explore how the spatiotemporalities of domestic fiction, of the act of rereading, and of caretaking intersect with one another productively for queer theory, particularly for queer theories of relationality and commitment.

For more details and to book your ticket, click here.

Contested Conditions Screening: Unrest (Jennifer Brea, 2017)

Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square

Friday 14th June, 6-9pm

Suddenly afflicted with a debilitating illness, director Jennifer Brea is eventually diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Frustrated by doctors’ insistence that her condition is psychosomatic, Brea makes contact from her bed with an activist community engaged in lobbying for further research into the disease. Spanning the categories of documentary, personal testimony and activist intervention, Unrest offers insight into a little-understood chronic illness, and explores what role the movie camera might play in giving image and voice to people living with the condition.

The film will be followed by a panel discussion with Louise Kenward, Raju Rage and Daniella Valz Gen.

Book your ticket here.

External Conference: Mind Reading 2019: Adolescence, Literature, and Mental Health

17th May 2019, St Anne’s College, Oxford

For more details and booking, click here.

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