Medicine, Health & the Arts in Post-War Britain is a series of Wellcome Trust-funded interdisciplinary seminars organised by researchers from the Universities of Exeter, Plymouth and Bristol. The project has been running since February 2012 and will conclude later this month; so far, three seminars have been held focusing on medical intersections with visual art, literature and music in turn. Sam Goodman and Victoria Bates give an overview of the seminars so far:

Featuring a diverse range of speakers and attendees drawn from the academic, professional and practice-based spheres of medicine and medical humanities, the three seminars held to date have fostered extensive and productive dialogue, often revealing salient, common themes at work within both individual fields as well as medical humanities in general. During the art seminar in Exeter, Stephen Pettit-Smith (Exeter HealthCare Arts), Ian Williams (Graphic Medicine) and Catherine Lamont and Louise Younie (Bristol University) discussed the roles of visual art in medical education and in the process of relief or recovery from mental or physical illness. They acknowledged the post-war growth of links between visual art and healthcare, whilst also critically questioning the limits of its effectiveness. At the literature seminar held at the University of Bristol, Jamie Whitehead (King’s College, London), Patricia Norvillo-Corvalán (University of Kent) and Fiona Hamilton (University of Bristol) all presented papers which looked at the theoretical and practical interconnections between literature and medicine; a podcast of the event can be found here. At the most recent seminar, Paul Robertson (Music, Mind, Spirit), Zack Moir (University of Edinburgh) and Helen Odell-Miller brought the ongoing debate over the professionalisation of arts and health into sharp focus, exploring the complex issue of whether and how a primarily emotive discipline is able to produce quantifiable results in an increasingly impact-driven culture. All of the speakers have engaged with recent history to highlight the importance of contextualising the medical humanities.

The final Medicine, Health & the Arts seminar (on medicine and drama) will take place in Exeter on the 25th of May 2012. For more information or to reserve a place, please email the organisers Sam Goodman or Victoria Bates. Please note we are able to provide (limited) support with travel costs; please email for further details.


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