States of Rest (IAS Experiencing Time Workshop, 7 Feb 2013, 2-5pm St Mary’s College, Durham University)

silence_and_stillness-wallpaper-960x600Durham’s Institute of Advanced Study and Centre for Medical Humanities present:
States of Rest
An “Experiencing Time” Workshop
7th February 2013
Kenworthy Hall,
St Mary’s College

Time is often studied and conceptualised in ways which emphasise dynamism, flow and movement, the labours of attention, striving and growing. But what of those aspects of our corporeal existence which appear to depart from these concepts and notions? What is happening – existentially, ethically, neurologically – during states of rest? And how, methodologically, might be best explore such states?

Paul Harrison (Lecturer in Geography, Durham University), “On Hesitation”

What could it mean to be a being which hesitates? While generally considered a secondary and negative trait, one incompatible with the demands of political, moral, economic, and social life, in this paper I ask what happens or could happen to our understanding of ourselves if we put hesitation first. It may be that what defines us is less our commitments than our capacity for irresolution; our capacity not to bring our plans, intentions, and resolutions into actuality.

Jenny Laws (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Medical Humanities, Durham University), “The curation of rest”

One night before bedtime, Elsie and Jake ask their mother what she was doing for the seven hundred and thirty one days from 2006 to 2008 during which she slept unwakingly in a rare case of postpartum hypersomnolence. This paper retells the fairytale she writes for them, with some interruptions from neuroscience, Susan Sontag, the Brothers Grimm and others. The curation (cure+curating) of storytelling is seen as one means of coming to terms with our uneasy therapeutic relation with rest and inactivity.

Daniel Margulies (Neuroanatomy and Connectivity Research Group Leader, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive & Brain Sciences) & Felicity Callard (Senior Lecturer in Social Science for Medical Humanities, Durham University), “Giving the Brain a Rest: a Transdisciplinary Tale of Collaboration”

Our joint presentation on the brain “at rest” will critically reflect on our 4-year collaboration. This collaboration involves a cognitive neuroscientist working on resting-state fMRI research, which addresses the functional significance of spontaneous, intrinsic brain activity (Margulies), and an interdisciplinary scholar preoccupied with the past and present of psychiatry (Callard). Our journey takes us from a mouse laboratory in Italy (initial cross-disciplinary dialogue about the ‘resting state’), to our desks in Berlin and London (co-writing a history of the emergence of resting state research), to a laboratory in Leipzig (collaborating with a psychologist researching mind-wandering and daydreaming), to a scientometrics laboratory in Leiden (to explore new methodologies through which to understand and analyse the evolution of the field of resting-state research). In the process, we will foreground how current neuroscientific and cognitive psychological research on the brain and mind “at rest” variously extends and departs from earlier conceptualizations.

These three presentations will be followed by a panel discussion and moderated question time. All are welcome and tea and coffee will be provided. Please RSVP to Catherine Syson if you would like to attend.

About Centre for Medical Humanities

Centre for Medical Humanities
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