Dr Katherine Southwood (Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Oxford) is hosting a conference on 'Accounts of Illness in Historical and Modern Texts: Exploring Methods in Medical Humanities Research Across Discplines'. This conference is supporting by the TORCH Medical Humanities programme.
How can historical and modern accounts of illness experience which are textual be analysed in a methodologically rigorous way?
It is vitally important to establish rigorous methodologies when examining illness experiences in texts. Methods used for evaluation are the cornerstone upon which any arguments hinge. Without methodological strength, any analysis of modern illness experiences or of experiences in texts could be understood as uncritical and unhelpful.
Examples of the sorts of questions which this conference explores are how then can we access and understand representations of illness in texts? How should we attempt to classify such texts in terms of their genre; are poetic texts potentially fertile ground for this area of research? What is the significance of language and metaphor in texts? How should we contextualize illness experiences in texts? Are illness stories helpful for modern patients? How can modern patient stories be compared with historical texts? How can historical texts be understood in light of modern patient stories? Why is it important to examine illness experiences?
This day conference brings together academics who work with illness experiences and texts from a variety of disciplines in order to compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of approaches. Through this cross-fertilization of discussion, new methods could be introduced into existing disciplines and the opportunity for collaborative research presented.