I will be presenting a paper next week at Glasgow University Medical Humanities Research Centre at the Attentive Writers: Healthcare, Authorship and Authority Conference.

I am sure some of you will be attending the conference and I would be very happy to make contact.

My paper is entitled, The Argument of Images: Narrative Diversity in Cancer Care and it is based on the ongoing Drawing Women’s Cancer project. The following is a short extract:

In order to address the idea of ‘attentiveness’ in terms of process-oriented creative practice this paper will discuss an interdisciplinary research project that is fundamentally premised in the conceptual and methodological ethos of narrative medicine, and in an exploration of the ‘argument of images’, as promulgated by James W. Fernandez, it could be understood to offer a challenge to the specific idea of ‘attentive writing’. If such a challenge does indeed exist however, it is not based in any denial of narrative itself as the powerful ‘magnet and a bridge, attracting and uniting diverse fields of learning’ that Charon describes; it is based rather in the promotion of the inclusive nature of narrative itself, wherein writing and imagery are understood as equal in terms of their capacity for generating dialogue between the humanities and bio-medical science.

For Linguist Einar Haugen, ‘many ideas do come in extra-linguistic form, as images’, however, he also acknowledges that because images representing experience are in themselves extra-linguistic, this is not to discount language per se. This paper proposes then that visual representation of the experience of illness, in drawings generated through an artist’s interpretation of personal narratives, which are themselves representations, is a multi-layered process that can be defined as a methodological ‘visual extension’ of narrative medicine. Visual representation here becomes a form of ‘attentive’ creativity, manifest in an interlanguage that can ‘speak the unspeakable’.

Three images I will be discussing in my paper:

Jac Saorsa (2013) Vulva Before

Jac Saorsa (2012, ink and watercolour) Vulva Before Surgery

Jac Saorsa (2013) Vulva Directly After

Jac Saorsa (2012, ink and watercoloud) Vulva Directly After Surgery

Jac Saorsa (2013) Vulva After

Jac Saorsa (2012, ink and watercoloure) Vulva After Surgery


eliotnorth · August 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I wish I could make this conference, what a great group of speakers on a subject I’m really interested in. Your images are hard to look at yet fascinating to me as a doctor and a woman. They draw you in yet repel at the same time; they are really powerful images. I think you are doing something really important with your work, exploring an area that is rarely talked about let alone seen. Thanks for posting. Eliot

eliotnorth · August 22, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Reblogged this on Chekhov was a doctor: Medicine, health, & creativity and commented:
Great conference, fantastic project by Jac Saorsa.

hattiejax · October 23, 2013 at 9:16 am

Amazing images. What fantastic work. As a visual artist and well woman I find this inspirational. This is first time I have heard of vulval cancer! Thank you

    Jac Saorsa · October 23, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Thank you Hattiejax! As the project is a lot about raising awareness of the disease this is an especially welcome comment. You might be interested in the ‘Notes from Galveston’ series of posts here on CMH WordPress that I am doing while visiting the University of Texas as a research scholar. I am working on a book we intend to publish as part of the project.

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