Conference: Medicine, the Humanities, and the Human Sciences (NYC)

Over the next four years, the Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University will offer a series of events on the topic of “Evaluation, Value, and Evidence.”  This series aims to examine the methods by which various disciplines and field studies describe, measure, assess, articulate, judge, and produce knowledge by different means and for different ends.

Taking “medical humanities” as its subject, the first conference in this series considers some of the investigations and interventions made by those who study illness and health from the perspectives of the arts, humanities, and human sciences.  Presentations by medical practitioners, historians, social justice advocates, medical journalists, disability studies and narrative studies scholars will be interspersed with readings by poets and novelists, reports from the field, and a theatrical performance.

Among the questions to be addressed are:  What roles do methods like description, measurement, prediction, and interpretation play in the evaluative practices of the interdisciplinarily diverse context known as “medical humanities”?  How are diverse values—ethical, clinical, psychological, experimental, political, aesthetic, financial, and so forth—measured and assessed?  How do disciplinary investments and methodological differences affect how evidence is produced, evaluated, and valued?   How, for example, do healthcare practitioners evaluate health and value human life?  How do narrative practices affect medical evaluation?  How is the price of a human organ determined—or the worth of efforts to save an individual life?  How does “data” gain and lose its evidentiary status as it moves between the various “medical humanities” disciplines?  To what material, formal, and social constraints is evidence subject?  How do categories of evidence gain authority or fall under suspicion?  How do representational forms affect the persuasiveness of evidence—and for which audiences or constituencies?  Whose testimony matters?  How do new kinds of evidence (DNA, for example) change existing regimes of knowledge?

Participants include: Rachel Adams, Jenny Allen, Christopher Baswell, Kathy Boudin, Paul Browde, Eric Cassel, Rita Charon, Susan Coppola, Sayantani DasGupta, Mallika Dutt, Sheri Fink, Valeria Finucci, Carolyn Halpin-Healy, Marsha Hurst, Brian Hurwitz, Terrence Holt, Alvan Ikoku, Uzodimna Iweala, Marie Myung-Ok Lee, John McGowan, Murray Nossel, Giana Pomata, Benjamin Reiss, Cherie Ann Rosemand, Barry Saunders, David Serlin, Maura Spiegel, Ishita Srivastava, Jane Thrailkill, Neil Vickers, Jonathan Weiner, and James Whitehead.

This Conference is made possible through the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

For more information, click here.

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