Professor Stuart Murray, Director of the Leeds Centre for Medical Humanities, introduces readers of the CMH blog to the UK’s newest medical humanities research centre:
The Leeds Centre for Medical Humanities brings together researchers working in the areas of health and the arts across a number of disciplines. Collaboration between the Faculties of Arts and Medicine & Health has been ongoing in the University and the Centre involves scholars working in English, Film Studies, History, Philosophy, as well as Primary and Public Health. The Centre facilitates and promotes leading interdisciplinary research and aims to ensure that Leeds becomes recognised as a world-leading institution in the rapidly developing subject area of Medical Humanities. As such, the Centre acts as a point of focus both for academic research and knowledge transfer/impact activities. It is also involved in the development of teaching at Leeds, most notable the establishment of a new intercalated BSc in Medical Humanities within the MBChB degree.
In its various activities, the Centre seeks to establish how the logic and language of a critical arts methodology, specifically its historical, literary and cultural approaches, can be applied to research in medicine and in decision-making about healthcare provision; and to explore the degree to which research practices developed in health research, including standardised qualitative methods used in the analysis of interviews and texts, can illuminate work undertaken in medical humanities. Full collaboration between those working in Arts and Medicine/Health, both academics and clinical professionals, is at the core of the Centre’s, which also interact with the substantial range of health institutions and services in Leeds and beyond. The critical methods at the heart of an arts-based medical humanities approach have important roles to play in extending the knowledge of all those involved in healthcare and lead towards a greater appreciation of the nature and meaning of clinical practice. The Centre’s work stresses the central relevance of this approach in understanding how medicine is apprehended by its users. More specifically the attention to narrative, issues of representation, historical development, questions of critique, and to other cultural contexts, enables a greater awareness of the role of medicine in everyday situations, leading to new and innovative perspectives on the ways in which offer provision for human health.
Medical Humanities in Leeds: Leeds is a perfect location to coordinate Medical Humanities research. The University boasts international research expertise in Medicine & Health, with active research-oriented clinical services in primary health care and public health, acute hospital care and mental health care, as well on health-related topics in English, History, Philosophy and Modern Languages. The NHS in Leeds covers a population of ¾ million in the city as well as providing specialist health services to a larger population in the Yorkshire and Humber region, while links to surrounding Health Trusts allow access to clinical services and patients from the culturally and ethnically diverse population of West Yorkshire. The Thackray Museum – a major Centre partner – is the largest medical museum in the UK, drawing more than 60,000 visitors each year and with collections (consisting of over 65,000 objects, books and archive materials) that are one of the richest of its kind. The museum has an international reputation for being a leader in providing innovative learning opportunities, with multiple public engagement programmes and special exhibitions.
LCMH launch: The Leeds Centre for Medical Humanities was officially launched at an event on February 20th in the Boyle Library. Professor Michael Arthur, the Vice-Chancellor, opened proceedings, stressing the importance of the initiative in bringing together research strengths across Faculties at Leeds. Professor Stuart Murray, the Director of the Centre, then introduced the special guest speaker, Lennard J Davis, Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who spoke on ‘Depression and Disability’. Some 80 people attended the launch, which was followed by a reception in the School of English, including representatives from non-academic partner organisations (the NHS and Opera North) and research collaborators from partner universities in the UK and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The day after the launch, a series of workshops were held exploring future research activity.
If you would like to know about the Leeds Centre for Medical Humanities, please contact Stuart Murray.