Blood; ejaculate; spit & phlegm; tears; mucus & pus; urine; diarrhea; milk; vomit; sweat. Sometimes the body seems to be a leaky collection of liquids, a porous and productive entity, a body that repeatedly transgresses its own boundaries through seeping and oozing. Fluid Physicalities is a new seminar series, convened by Anthony Bale and Esther Leslie and hosted by Birkbeck College’s School of Arts. Over the course of 2016, we shall meet monthly, mixing lecture and panel models, with a wide range of speakers, local, national, international, and interdisciplinary (further details to follow). All events will showcase current research in our theme of Fluid Physicalities, developing the established and innovative work in Medical Humanities and the History of Medicine that is ongoing at Birkbeck.
Our project is interdisciplinary and, through its investigation of bodily fluids, it speaks to a broad conception of embodiment that lies at the interface of culture and medical knowledge. It mobilizes a variety of analytic modes from literature and humanities, hard and social sciences, art practice and other modes , in order to explore those fluids that are intimate to each of us, but sometimes alienated from us by emotions such as disgust or by cultural taboos. It will work to make links to questions of health and well-being, disease and biomedical exploration across historical and contemporary settings. It will focus its explorations on human practices and thinking, but will, on occasion, as with breastmilk, draw on cross-species and animal practices. The scholars approached will be diverse in background, but each will be open to interdisciplinary study and they and their audiences will be encouraged to extend their conversations from fluid to fluid.
Over the course of 2016 Fluid Physicalities will meet for speaker events.
We meet monthly at 6pm (7.30pm on 11th March) in the Keynes Library, Birkbeck School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD. Nearest tubes: Euston, Euston Square, and Goodge Street. All are welcome. Fluid refreshments will be served.
We will be adding to our programme over the coming months: further details to follow. The draft programme for 2016 is as follows:
- Friday 15 January: Isabel Davis on urine, with response from Lisa Baraitser. The title of Dr Davis’ paper is ‘Waiting to wee: towards a history of pregnancy testing.’
- Friday 19 February: Anthony Bale on blood with a response from David Feldman. The title of Prof. Bale’s paper is ‘Dracula’s blood.’
- Friday 11 March [NB 7:30pm start]: Vybarr Cregan-Reid on sweat, with responses from Lynda Nead and Fintan Walsh
- Friday 29 April: ejaculate – details to follow
- Friday 13 May: Matthew Cheeseman on vomit
- Friday 17 June: Patricia MacCormack on mucous
- Friday 21 October: Eyal Rozmarin on tears with a response from Jacqueline Rose
- Friday 18 November: Esther Leslie and Melanie Jackson on breastmilk
- Friday 2 December: Laura Salisbury on diarrhoea
- January 2017: Fluid Physicalities closing conference
Fluid Physicalities is generously supported by Wellcome/Birkbeck ISSF Public Engagement Funding.