The Gothic and Medical Humanities
Call for Papers for a Special Issue of Gothic Studies
Proposals are invited for a special issue of Gothic Studies exploring intersections between the Gothic and medical humanities.
Gothic studies has long grappled with suffering bodies, and the fragility of human flesh in the grip of medical and legal discourse continues to be manifest in chilling literature and film. The direction of influence goes both ways: Gothic literary elements have arguably influenced medical writing, such as the nineteenth-century clinical case study. In this second decade of the twenty-first century, it seems apt to freshly examine intersections between the two fields.
The closing years of the twentieth century saw the emergence of medical humanities, an interdisciplinary blend of humanities and social science approaches under the dual goals of using arts to enhance medical education and interrogating medical practice and discourse. Analysis of period medical discourse, legal categories and medical technologies can enrich literary criticism in richly contextualising fictional works within medical practices. Such criticism can be seen as extending the drive towards historicised and localised criticism that has characterised much in Gothic studies in recent decades.
Our field offers textual strategies for analysing the processes by which medical discourse, medical processes and globalised biotechnological networks can, at times, do violence to human bodies and minds – both of patient and practitioner. Cultural studies of medicine analyse and unmask this violence. This special issue will explore Gothic representations of the way medical practice controls, classifies and torments the body in the service of healing.
Essays could address any of the following in any period, eighteenth-century to the present:
Medical discourse as itself Gothic (e.g., metaphors in medical writing; links between case histories and the Gothic tradition), and/or reflections on how specific medical discourses have shaped Gothic literary forms
Illness narratives and the Gothic (e.g., using Arthur Frank’s ‘chaos narratives’ of helplessness in The Wounded Storyteller).
Literary texts about medical processes as torture/torment in specific historical and geographic contexts (including contemporary contexts)
Doctors or nurses represented in literature as themselves
Gothic ‘victims’, constrained by their medical environment
Genetic testing; organ harvest; genetic engineering; reproductive technologies; limb prostheses; human cloning, and more.
To date the links between Gothic and psychiatric medical discourse have been the most thoroughly explored, so preference will be given to articles exploring other, non-psychiatric medical contexts in the interests of opening up new connections.
Please email 500-word abstract and curriculum vitae to Dr Sara Wasson. Deadline for proposals: 1 October 2013.
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