Conference: Making Sense of Mad Studies, Durham

Wed 30th Sept. – Thurs 1st October 2015, Durham, UK

Sign up here.

‘Making Sense of Mad Studies’ is a two day conference to be held on 30 September and 1 October 2015, funded by the Welcome Trust and hosted by the Centre for Medical Humanities at Durham University in collaboration with the North East Mad Studies Forum.  The aim of the conference is to provide a platform for the development and critical exploration of the emerging discipline, Mad Studies, with specific emphasis on nurturing new researchers and collaborations in this area- both inside and outside of the University. There will be a particular critical focus on exploring the following themes:

  • What are the challenges Mad Studies face and what can we do about them?
  • What does ‘doing’ Mad Studies mean?
  • Connections between Mad Studies and disciplines such as sociology, disability studies, geography, psychiatry, social policy, healthcare and medicine;
  • Mad Studies, ‘recovery’, and the co-option of activist terms;
  • Narratives of madness and distress- drawing on literature and cultural representations as a source for understanding mental distress.

We are delighted to announce that we already have five keynote speakers confirmed: Prof. Peter Beresford, Representatives from ‘Recovery in the Bin’, Prof. Brenda LeFrancois, Dr Helen Spandler, Prof. Brendan Stone.

We hope this conference provides space to begin and continue conversations, and for delegates to think about how we make sense of Mad Studies, reflecting on what Mad Studies has done and can do. If you have any questions about the conference please do not hesitate to contact Victoria Armstrong, one of the conference organisers at  Also, if you have any particular access requirements please let Victoria know.  We expect demand for places at this conference will be high so please book early.  Booking for the event will close on 1st September 2015.

Do you have questions about Making Sense of Mad Studies? Contact Victoria Armstrong

CFP: Cultures of Harm in Institutions of Care: Historical & Contemporary Perspectives, Birkbeck

Cultures of Harm in Institutions of Care: Historical & Contemporary Perspectives
15-16 April 2016
Birkbeck, University of London

In 1921, Dr Montagu Lomax published a searing indictment of Prestwich Asylum exposing an entrenched sub-culture of malpractice, negligence and abuse. Recent historical research has shown that many of the same practices were still taking place at Prestwich fifty years later.

Similar abuses continue today. Stafford Hospital, Winterbourne View and the crimes committed by Jimmy Savile are among the more recent examples of how systemic violence and neglect can be visited upon some of society’s most vulnerable individuals in institutions that have been charged with a special duty of care.

This two-day conference will explore the shifting political, socio-economic, cultural and medical influences that have formed and perpetuated cultures of harm from the eighteenth century to the present day across the world. We are particularly interested in the production of harmful practices –physical, sexual and psychological violence directed by one person or group against another – in therapeutic and caring environments. These might include hospitals and infirmaries, psychiatric facilities, religious institutions, care homes, children’s homes and educational establishments, as well as infirmaries and medical spaces in prisons and correctional institutions, military barracks, camps and workhouses.

We welcome papers from all academic disciplines. Suggested themes include:

  • Institutional contexts that contribute to specific cultures and social relationships between individuals and groups
  • The impact of wider societal factors on institutional cultures and contexts
  • Shifting power relations and cultural differences and similarities between staff, patients and other groups
  • Issues around individual and collective agency, resistance and complicity, as well as coercion, scapegoating, ‘whistleblowing’, bullying and negotiation between individuals
  • The role and use of space such as seclusion, locked wards, single/mixed-sex wards
  • Effects of the institutional environment around activity and stimulation, privacy, communication, and support for staff
  • Treatments, medication, the use of restraints, issues around consent
  • Staff recruitment, conditions and training
  • The role of emotions such as fear, pain, shame, humiliation, guilt, anger, sadness, pleasure, desire and nostalgia
  • The role of narrative, language and silence, reporting and non-reporting, including the use of the language of care and therapy to justify violent practices
  • Representations in art, literature, film and drama
  • Factors that have disrupted or changed harmful cultures for the better
  • The role of wider public institutions and agencies such as medicine, the law, social services, academia, religion, government and the media
  • Theoretical, methodological and ethical approaches and challenges.

Whilst this is primarily an academic conference, we would be delighted to receive proposals for artistic work such as a short film, a poetry reading or performance art.

Confirmed speakers: Allan Young, an anthropologist and the Marjorie Bronfman Professor in Social Studies in Medicine (McGill) and Richard Bessel, Professor of Twentieth Century History (York).

Please submit an abstract of up to 300 words together with a brief outline of your academic affiliation to by 20th September 2015. You will be informed whether or not your paper is successful in early October. Some travel and accommodation bursaries may be available.

Full details can be found on our website:

This event is organised by Professor Joanna Bourke, Dr Louise Hide and Dr Ana Antic in association with the Birkbeck Trauma Project supported by the Birkbeck Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology.

CFP: ‘Disability and Ageing’, special issue of Review of Disability Studies Journal

We are pleased to announce the release of an exciting Call for Papers for a special forum on Disability and Ageing for the Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal. 

This is a timely topic because population aging is taking place in nearly all countries across the globe and, by mid-century, older persons are projected to exceed the number of children for the first time ever (UN, 2013). Within reports published by global governing bodies, disability is routinely assumed and directly referenced as a consequence of population aging. Although powerful in their potential to direct support to targeted issues, such reports may also contribute to a “crisis rhetoric” (Kennedy, 2002, p. 226) that rests on an “inappropriate conflation” (Chivers, 2011, p. 22) between disability and aging, which begins with the assumption that all older people are disabled by virtue of their being old. Such conflation has implications for public policy and entitlement to services and supports. Furthermore, research, policy and practice have tended to treat disability as a product of unsuccessful aging, and aging as an obstacle to living well with a disability. There is a paucity of research that explores the nuances and complexities of the relationship between disability and aging (Freedman, 2014).

Papers considered may take the form of academic and creative works, as well as reflections on international disability-specific policies, practices, pedagogies and developments.

Please click here to download the remainder of the announcement including a list of suggested topics for exploration and detailed submission requirements through the RDS online submission system at

Please note that the deadline for submission of papers is 31st October 2015. If you have further questions please contact the Special Guest Editors Dr. Katie Aubrecht and Dr. Tamara Krawchenko.

CFP: Dissecting the Page: Medical Paratexts Conference, University of Glasgow

Dissecting the Page: Medical Paratexts

Sir Alwyn Williams Building, Lilybank Gardens

University of Glasgow, G12 8QQ

9am-6pm, Friday 11 September 2015

This interdisciplinary conference draws together two emerging and complementary areas of research in the medical humanities: book history (as it pertains to medical texts), and the study of medical paratexts. We understand paratext as the apparatus of graphic communication: title pages, prefaces, illustrations, marginalia, and publishing details which act as mediators between text and reader. Discussing the development of medical paratexts across scribal, print and digital media, from the medieval period to the twenty-first century, the conference will take place on Friday 11 September 2015 at the University of Glasgow.

From Christina Lee and Freya Harrison’s discovery of the MRSA-combatting properties of an Anglo-Saxon recipe, to the increasing popularity of Ian Williams’ Graphic Medicine as a teaching tool for medical students, current research into the intersections between medicine, text, and image is producing dynamic and unexpected results (Thorpe: 2015; Taavitsainen: 2010; Couser: 2009; Cioffi: 2009; Díaz-Vera: 2009). With this conference, our keynote speakers will encompass collections-based approaches to medical humanities research (Prof. Jeremy Smith); the use of modern medical knowledge to inform medieval material research (Dr Deborah Thorpe); and creative approaches to medical humanities and contemporary medical practice. Recent years have seen several conferences and publications on paratextual research, and a range of events orientated around literature and medicine, but there is little crossover between the two fields. We propose that the breadth of research into medical book history in the medieval and early-modern period will prompt productive and innovative overlaps with work on modern medical paratexts and graphic novels. By focusing exclusively on medical paratexts, our aim is to establish an interdisciplinary network of scholars interested in graphic communication and medical practice. In addition to our keynote speakers and roundtable discussion, Glasgow’s Special Collections department have agreed to curate a display of medical marvels, medieval to modern, to coincide with the conference.

We are now looking for academics, artists, and medical professionals of all levels, periods, and fields to present their papers and to participate in the discussions that this conference aims to facilitate. Successful abstracts will be pre-circulated on the conference website and associated Twitter feed in advance of the conference. There are two travel bursaries available for postgraduate and/or ECR presenters; the recipients of these grants will be asked to write a short reflection on the conference, which will be published on the MHRC blog and the conference website. We also intend to publish an edited collection, to which conference speakers will be invited to contribute. 

We invite papers on topics that include (but are not limited to):

  • the role of the medical preface
  • graphic medicine in popular culture
  • medicine, illness, and/or disability and graphic novels
  • the development and role of medical (and medicalised) illustrations
  • the advertising and placement of texts depicting medicine/illness/disability
  • complex publications: overlaps between literature, art, theology, and medicine
  • the development of paratext in medical texts from script to print
  • the use and readers of medical texts
  • auto/biography and medicine

Please email an abstract of up to 300 words and a short bio to the conference organisers ( by Thursday 30th July. If you wish to be considered for one of the PG/ECR bursaries, please email us for an application form and submit it with your abstract and bio. We will contact all respondents on the outcome of their proposal by Friday 7th August. Thanks to funding from the Wellcome Trust, this conference will be free to attend.

The conference venue, the Sir Alwyn Williams Building, is fully accessible. If you have any questions, please email the organising committee (Dr Hannah Tweed, Dr Diane Scott, and Dr Johanna Green) at, or contact us via @ParatextMatters.


Wellcome Support


Vacancy: Visiting Assistant Professor in Gender and Disability, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Department of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is looking to hire a Visiting Assistant Professor for the academic year 2015-2016 in Gender and Disability. The VAP will teach two courses a semester, four courses for the year. Three of these courses must work at the intersections of disability and gender; there is greater flexibility for the fourth course. Ideally candidates will be able to teach the courses “Visualizing Bodies” and “Disability and Gender in Film” in the Fall semester, but this is not a requirement. The contract year for this position runs from 24th August 2015 through 22nd May 2016.

Candidates should have a PhD in hand by 24th August 2015 in Disability Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies or another relevant discipline. Beginning salary is $43,772. If the Ph.D. is not in hand by this date, the candidate may be hired as a Visiting Instructor at a lower salary.
Interested applicants should send a cover letter, C.V., and sample syllabi to Associate Chair Christina Ewig ( and Su Ann Rose ( by 15th July 2015. Please have two letters of recommendation sent under separate cover. If you have questions, please contact Christina Ewig.

The University of Wisconsin is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer.