On the train on the way back from a joint research meeting at Kings College’s Centre for the Humanities and Health, it was great to see Gavin Miller posting about the first meeting of the Medical Humanities Research Network Scotland. There’s been networking north and south this week as our meeting at Kings College was the first of (what I hope will be) a series of events where the two Wellcome Strategic Award-holding Centres get together to share research developments and ideas.
Four of us from Durham made the trip: Martyn Evans, Mike White, Angela Woods and myself. Brian Hurwitz, director of the CHH, had arranged a programme for the day that paired papers from Durham with those from London. Discussion after each then enabled common themes to be explored and potential collaborative links to be made. For example my paper, ‘Beyond the Ban: understanding the confirmed smoker’, introducing new ways of approaching smoking research which take into account the ways in which individual identity may be constructed through the experience of smoking, was paired with a paper by Jamie Whitehead from Kings on ‘Autobiography and Mental Illness: the Forms of Experience’. Martyn outlined the CMH programme of work and research clusters; Mike led us through the Centre’s exploration of flourishing within the context of our work in community-based arts in health; and Angela presented the fruits of discussions she and Bethan Evans had been engaged in on the parallel debates between ‘medical’ and ‘health’ humanities, and ‘medical’ and ‘health’ geography. We were delighted to be joined by Dr Maura Spiegel, a recent editor of the journal Literature and Medicine, from Columbia University, New York, to give a guest presentation on ‘Exercises in Ambiguity: Literature and Clinical Practice’.
This was a great opportunity to share what was happening in our two Centres and one we will certainly want to repeat. In fact, Durham will be hosting colleagues from Kings at our international research summit in September, but another focussed meeting would be most welcome. Many thanks to Kings for kicking this off.
The networking is not over yet! As CMH blog watchers will know, we are about to host an International Symposium on Arts in Health Research at St Mary’s College in Durham this weekend, and colleagues from around the world are beginning to converge on our small city. We look forward to sharing more of that event on the blog soon.