New publication: ‘Critical Medical Humanities’, a special issue of BMJ’s Medical Humanities

Posted by Durham’s Centre for Medical Humanities:

It is with great pleasure that we announce the publication of a special issue of Medical Humanities journal, edited by Centre for Medical Humanities researchers William VineyFelicity Callard, and Angela Woods.

Cover image of Medical Humanities 41.1. Matthew Herring, Illustration depicting telemedicine – diagnosis and treatment over the internet (image provided by Wellcome Images).

Exploring the many valences of the word ‘critical’ across and beyond the medical humanities, the special collection champions a ‘critical medical humanities’ characterised by: (i) a widening of the sites and scales of ‘the medical’ beyond the primal scene of the clinical encounter; (ii) greater attention not simply to the context and experience of health and illness, but to their constitution at multiple levels; (iii) closer engagement with critical theory, queer and disability studies, activist politics and other allied fields; (iv) recognition that the arts, humanities and social sciences are best viewed not as in service or in opposition to the clinical and life sciences, but as productively entangled with a ‘biomedical culture’; and, following on from this, (v) robust commitment to new forms of interdisciplinary and cross-sector collaboration. A more detailed account of these arguments can be found in the introductory paper.

The broadest ambition of this collection is to offer an invitation to think carefully about ‘critical’ priorities and to enliven debate about the guiding assumptions of medical humanities research. It does so by publishing work by those who may not ordinarily label themselves as medical humanities researchers. Andy GoffeyJan SlabyMel Y. ChenBronwyn ParryLynne Friedli and Robert Stearn are leading social science and humanities scholars who reflect upon the work of criticism in fields as diverse as immunology, neuroscience, race and disability studies, reproductive and fertility industries, and social policy. We have also invited short responses from Alex Nading, Stacey Smith, Clare BarkerLuna Dolezal, and Sarah Atkinson to draw out the key ideas of each article. We are extremely grateful to all our contributors for their time, energy, and commitment to this publication.

With the support of the journal’s Editor-in-Chief, Deborah Bowman, this special issue of Medical Humanities is free to access online until 15th June 2015. We would like to extend our thanks to Deborah for enthusiastically supporting this project and to Emma Chan and her colleagues at the British Medical Journal for their professionalism and attention to detail.

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