St Chad’s College
Durham University
The Centre for Medical Humanities at Durham University will host another of its ‘Affiliate’s Lunches‘ on Dec 4th, focussing on ‘Human – Non-Human Interactions’. Professor David Herman (Department of English Studies) and Dr Andrew Russell (Department of Anthropology) will offer very different perspectives on this topic and all are most welcome to attend.

David Herman’s presentation will explore how research on stories about animals and human-animal relationships raises important questions for the critical medical humanities, and seeks  to promote reciprocal, bidirectional exchange between medical science and humanistic modes of inquiry. To this end, three topics for discussion will be briefly sketched out: human-animal interactions and their relevance for self-narratives, or the narratives that persons as well as communities tell in order to establish coherence among events separated in time; animal geographies in graphic narratives; and ascriptions of mental states and dispositions to nonhuman animals across a variety of discourse contexts, nonfictional as well as fictional. Falling under the remit of a narratology beyond the human, all three topics suggest how the study of stories that cross the species boundary bears importantly on medical-humanities research, and vice versa.
Professor of the Engaged Humanities in the Department of English Studies, David Herman is currently exploring ways to connect ideas from narrative studies with work in a range of fields concerned with animals and human-animal relationships.
Andrew Russell’s research takes the ‘human/non-human interaction’ theme beyond the sphere of human-animal relationships to consider the nature of the relationships between people and plants.  There is much interest in the social sciences and humanities with theoretical and methodological innovations in the umbrella area encompassed by terms such as ‘material culture studies’, ‘thing-theory’, ‘ANT’, ‘speculative realism’, and ‘post-phenomenology’.  In frameworks such as these, plants can assume an importance that goes beyond mere matter.  His presentation will argue for the value of looking at tobacco, its associated technologies and paraphernalia in terms of botanical agency and tobacco-persons. Where does the power lie in the hybridized relationship of humankind with this apparently innocuous plant?
Andrew Russell, Reader in the Department of Anthropology, is currently on a Leverhulme Research Fellowship completing a book about tobacco in historical and cross-cultural perspective.
This informal seminar and lunch is part of an ongoing series, hosted by the Centre for Medical Humanities. For catering purposes, it would be very helpful if you were able to confirm your place at the lunch.  To do so, please contact our Administrator, Jane Abel, at .



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