Mad Studies Reading Group, Edinburgh

Date: 4-5pm, Tuesday 8th January 2019

Location: Staff Room, Chrystal Macmillan Building (CMB), University of Edinburgh, 15a George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9LD.

Academics, activists, or the generally intrigued are welcome to join us for the first meeting of Edinburgh’s Mad Studies Reading Group. ‘Mad Studies’ aims to centre the experiences of people with lived experience of mental distress and to critique dominant theoretical models of mental health and distress in the psy-disciplines (psychiatry, psychology, and related professions). This first reading group meeting will be a chance to brainstorm ideas for a discussion group we would like to roll out in 2019. We’re hoping to create a safe(r) space to discuss theory, literature, culture, and share some of our experiences as researchers, students, and/or people with personal experience of mental distress. We hope for the group to bring in critical thinking of Madness and its intersections, including race, disability, class, sexuality, gender, and colonialism. This space is open to those with little to no knowledge of Mad Studies as well as those who are more familiar with it.

The meeting will take place from 4-5pm on Tuesday 8th January 2019 in the Staff Room, Chrystal Macmillan Building (CMB), The University of Edinburgh, 15a George Square EH8 9LD. There is lift access to the room. There are gender neutral, wheelchair accessible toilets. There is free parking in George Square for Blue Badge holders. If you require any assistance with locating the venue or accessing the room, please let us know. If you’re interested in attending, we kindly ask that you please RSVP so we have a sense of numbers for catering purpose. There will be tea and coffee making facilities, snacks and soft drinks. You can register to attend via the Eventbrite page.

If you’re not able to make the meeting but would like to stay in the loop, please send us an email and we will make a note of your email address and circulate any meeting notes and information regarding future discussion groups.

Prior to meeting, we encourage you to have a closer look at Mad Studies as a discipline, to get us thinking about some of the themes we might like to incorporate in our discussion group. You can access a PDF of the first reading by clicking on the link: “Introducing Mad Studies”, from Mad Matters (2013) by Robert Menzie, Brenda A. LeFrancois, and Geoffrey Reaume. We will focus on pages 1-10.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact Sarah at If there is anything we can do to make this or future meetings more accessible, please be in touch.

We hope to hear from you and look forward to meeting with you in January.

Best wishes,
Sarah, Kirsten and Nicole

‘Nursing Stories from the First World War: A Conversation with Dr Diane Atkinson’, Edinburgh

Date: 18.00 – 19.15, Friday 9th November 2018

Location: Royal Society of Edinburgh, 22−26 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2PQ

Nursing Stories from the First World War: A Conversation with Dr Diane Atkinson

The Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Young Academy of Scotland warmly invite you to Nursing stories from the First World War: A conversation with Dr Diane Atkinson.

Author Dr Diane Atkinson will share excerpts from and answer questions about her book ‘Elsie and Mairi Go To War: Two Extraordinary Women on the Western Front.’ Dr Alison O’Donnell, nursing historian and member of the Royal College of Nursing History of Nursing Society, will chair the conversation. The event will be accompanied by a small public exhibit to commemorate the centenary of the end of the war (open 5th – 16th November 2018).

‘Elsie and Mairi Go To War’ charts the journey of a young Scottish woman, Mairi Chisholm, and her English friend, Elsie Knocker, who volunteered to work as nurses on the front lines of the war in Belgium. Known as the ‘Madonnas of Pervyse’ they treated thousands of wounded soldiers over four years and were awarded numerous medals for bravery. A statue commemorating the courage and commitment of these two British nurses now stands in Ypres, Belgium.

Open to all and free to attend − registration required.

For further information or to book, please visit the RSE website or contact the RSE Events Team at or on 0131 240 2780.

CFP: ‘Ailing Empires: Medicine, Science, and Imperialism’, Edinburgh

Date: 31st May 2019

Location: University of Edinburgh

Deadline for Proposals: 8th February 2019

Ailing Empires: Medicine, Science, and Imperialism: Interdisciplinary Symposium

Keynote speaker: Dr Samiksha Sehrawat (Newcastle)

Twitter: @AEconference

2018 has begun as a period of renewed public and academic debate over the history and legacies of colonialism. Among their many faults, detached inquiries regarding the supposed benefits of colonial endeavours, however, miss the significance of everyday experiences of empire as expressed in a range of historical, literary, and visual evidence.

‘Ailing Empires’ is a one-day symposium that seeks to explore the extent to which narratives of health, medicine and science are inextricably bound with experiences of empire and colonialism throughout the nineteenth and twentieth-centuries. Through focus on a range of colonial contexts, textualities and sources, this symposium hopes to address questions such as: How did different colonial empires instrumentalise medicine and science? What role did healthcare and/or science play within the respective colonial project? Is ‘medical imperialism’ a useful term across different colonial contexts? In what way(s) did exchanges between Western and non-Western medical knowledge function as contact zones? How can scholarship engage with legacies of colonial medicine in the postcolonial age?

In order to explore these questions, we invite papers and presentations from a variety of disciplinary and comparative perspectives from across the humanities, and particularly encourage submissions from postgraduate and early-career researchers.

The following is an indicative, but by no means exhaustive, selection of the kinds of issues we would like to address:

  • Medical imperialism
  • Postcolonial legacies
  • Control and resistance
  • Medical encounters and knowledge exchange
  • Medicine and ecology
  • Mental health
  • The doctor-patient encounter
  • Missionaries and nurses
  • Sex and gender
  • Class and access/restriction
  • Infrastructures
  • Literary and visual representations
  • Medicine and travel writing
  • Authority and authorship
  • Drugs and healing practices
  • Hygiene, disease, and public health
  • Health reform and policies

Please send proposals of no more than 300 words detailing your topic, along with a brief bio, to by 8th February 2019. We invite the ‘traditional’ 20-minute paper, as well as alternative formats of presentation.


McCarthy Award for History of Medicine Research, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

Awarding Body: Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

Deadline: 31st August 2018

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh has set up an annual award for history of medicine research, specifically focused on the history of Scottish medicine. The purpose of this award is to support and develop the study of the history of medicine in Scotland. The prize for this award is £500.


This award is open to all researchers in the history of medicine, or related social and cultural history fields. Researchers can be based in the United Kingdom or overseas. Please be aware that for overseas finalists, travel expenses to the event will only be paid from their point of entry into the United Kingdom.

Application and Selection Procedure

Research must be unpublished and must have been undertaken in the last 3 years. Research which has been submitted for publication will be considered, but details should be given of when and where it has been submitted, and if it has been accepted for publication. Abstracts must be based on original research in the field.

The deadline for submissions is 31 August 2018. Abstracts must be submitted in either PDF or Word format along with a completed application form and curriculum vitae. The abstract must not exceed 1000 words in length. The curriculum vitae must not exceed two sides of A4. Applicants, if chosen, must be willing to present their research on Friday 19 October 2018. This is a public event, to encourage engagement with the history of medicine in Scotland.

The Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh will publish the winning paper. The winner will also be asked to submit a guest blog post on their research for publication on the College’s heritage blog.
The award can only be awarded to an individual once.

The application form an be downloaded at

Film Screening and Workshop on Disability Studies, Edinburgh

Location: University of Edinburgh

Date: 10am-1pm, Thursday 22nd February 2018

Workshop: ‘Researching disability: Facilitating best practice in inclusive research’

Disabled people have historically been habitually excluded from academic research. Yet, in recent times there has been a shift towards participatory research, and inclusion and participation of ‘users’. However, new researchers to the field or students in the beginning of their research career might be hesitant to conduct research within this field. Researchers might be unsure how to approach individuals with disability, both as partners in research and as participants.  There may also be anxieties about barriers to gaining ethical approval. This workshop aims to help participants to consider these issues, learn from others’ experiences and develop research that is inclusive and empowers rather than focusing on the vulnerability of participants.

We particularly encourage research students and early career researchers to come along and discuss their ideas and get advice and support.

We will provide a panel discussion, workshops, prizes and refreshments.

Ticket are free, and available, along with further details, on our Eventbrite page.


Location: University of Edinburgh

Date: 2-5pm, Thursday 22 February 2018

Film Screening: ‘Defiant lives’

Defiant Lives (Sarah Barton, 2016) is a film, telling the story of the disability rights movement in the United States, Britain and Australia, using archival footage and interviews with activists.

The Disability Research Edinburgh network will host this opportunity to see this film , followed by a discussion and refreshments

Booking and further details available on our Eventbrite page.

For more information about the Festival of Creative learning, see

Lecture: Gavin Francis, ‘The Anatomy of Curiosity – a personal tour of Edinburgh University’s anatomical collections’, Glasgow

Date: 6-8.30pm, Thursday 18th January 2018

Location: Kelvin Lecture Theatre, 1445 Argyle Street, Glasgow, G3 8AW

The Anatomy of Curiosity – a personal tour of Edinburgh University’s anatomical collections

The Anatomical Collections of Edinburgh University are immense and varied, gathered over more than five centuries. They vary from anthropological specimens from the colonial era, to early-modern curiosities such as human horns alongside narwhal horns. There are roomfuls of animal specimens, collected in an attempt to conjure order from the commotion of life. There’s the skull of George Buchanan and the skeleton of William Burke. Gavin Francis isn’t a curator, but a doctor and writer who has found inspiration in the collection. His illustrated lecture will be a personal journey around some of the highlights of the collection.

Gavin Francis practices medicine in Edinburgh and is the author of three books True North, Travels in Arctic Europe (2008, 2010), Empire Antarctica, Ice, Silence & Emperor Penguins(2012) which was Scottish Book of the Year 2013 and shortlisted for the Costa, Ondaatje, Banff, & Saltire Prizes, and Adventures in Human Being (2015), which won Saltire Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2015, was the Observer’s Science Book of the Year, and was a winner in the BMA Book Awards. His fourth book Shapeshifters: A journey through the changing human body will be published in 2018.

More on Gavin’s writings (including further essays) and work can be found on his website.

All welcome! If you are interested in attending this lecture, please reserve your free ticket via the Eventbrite page.

CFP: ‘Madness, Mental Illness and Mind Doctors in 20th and 21st Century Pop Culture’, Edinburgh

Date: 3rd – 4th May 2018

Location: University of Edinburgh


Deadline: 2nd February 2018

“Sometimes it’s only madness that makes us what we are.”

Grant Morrison, Batman: Arkham Asylum (1989)

In Madness and Civilization, Michel Foucault writes that “madness fascinates man”. Indeed, examples of this dark allure are present throughout the ages. From tales of those who paid a penny on Sundays to view the insane held at London’s Bethlem Hospital in the early nineteenth century, to ever popular portrayals of mental illness and madness in the literature, television, and film of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, representations of psychiatric illness remain loaded, highly visible, and deeply entrenched in Western pop culture.

Mental illness – and more colloquially, madness – often functions metaphorically as representative of a subversive liminality that delegitimizes protest against the status quo. Characters like John Givings in Richard Yates’s novel Revolutionary Road, for example, are ultimately neutralized as political agents through psychiatric diagnosis. Other more recent filmic and televisual representations of mental illness utilize such psychiatric tropes in alternative but highly recognizable ways. Television shows such as Sherlock and House emphasize the connection between madness and genius, while Fight Club and the television series Mr Robot focus on the social equation between mental illness and criminality. The American true crime podcast Sword and Scale has been accused of demonising victims of mental illness. In Andrew Solomon’s Noonday Demon, Allie Brosh’s webcomic Hyperbole and a Half, and Kabi Nagata’s manga My Lesbian Experiences with Loneliness, the line between pathology and pathography, medicine and memoir, has blurred.

 This conference will examine these representations, and explore the ways in which madness, mental illness, and those who are both affected by, and striving to treat, psychological maladies are depicted in twentieth and twenty-first century popular culture. We ask: how have fluctuating historical conditions and attitudes influenced the ways in which madness and mental illness are portrayed in the media? What kind of relationship exists between medical understandings of psychological disorders and popular depictions of such illnesses? Do contemporary portrayals of “madness” in popular fictions work to demystify and destigmatize mental illness, or do these representations reinforce negative stereotypes, further obfuscating our understanding of psychological disorders?

We welcome proposals for 20-minute presentations from a range of disciplines that engage with popular conceptions of madness and mental illness in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Proposals that include visual arts or other media, as well as the traditional paper, are welcomed. Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Depictions of mental illness in film, television, literature, podcasts, graphic novels, and video games.
  • Madness as political/protest (social conformity as ‘true’ madness)
  • Women/gender and madness
  • Madness and creativity
  • Pop culture vs. medical establishment
  • Psychiatry in popular culture
  • Madness and horror/the Gothic
  • Madness, confinement, and physical space
  • Asylums, community care, and deinstitutionalization
  • Madness as metaphor
  • History of psychiatry and antipsychiatry
  • Freud and the history of popularization of psychoanalysis
  • Post-war psychiatry
  • The politics/impact/importance of life narratives
  • The “myth” of mental illness
  • Medical humanities and medical science
  • Mental health and contemporary politics
  • Madness and confessional narrative

Please submit abstracts of 300 words, along with a short biographical note (150 words), to by 2nd February 2018. Further information at

Follow us on Twitter @madpopculture or facebook, under “Madness in Pop Culture PG Conference”.

Film Screening: Who’s Your Dandy? featuring Equivalence and Andra Simons, Edinburgh

Date: 7.30pm, Tuesday 28th November 2017

Location: Filmhouse Cinema, 88 Lothian Road, Edinburgh, EH3 9BZ

After an inaugural event that packed Filmhouse, Who’s Your Dandy? returns with more off-the-wall, accessible and film-based artworks from Scotland and beyond.

Equivalence, Sandra Alland’s live short story with film by Ania Urbanowska, receives a remount after sold-out shows at Transpose Barbican and Anatomy. Who’s Your Dandy? also features some of the most unique queer and trans shorts in English and sign languages, plus stunning live performance from Andra Simons and filmmaker Joao Trindade.

Watch Equivalence trailer HERE. Watch the Who’s Your Dandy? 2014 promo video HERE. 

Tickets £8/£6, available from Filmhouse Cinema.

The event will be BSL interpreted and/or subtitled, and audio described.

Programmed by Cachín Cachán Cachunga! in association with Filmhouse. Supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network.

Registration: ‘Nature and Wellbeing Symposium’, Edinburgh

Date: Friday 23 June

Location: Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, 2 Hope Park Square, Edinburgh

There are still some places available on the upcoming Nature and Wellbeing Symposium to be held at IASH, University of Edinburgh on Friday 23rd June.

The event features an (optional) Slow Walk around Holyrood Park, a talk by historian of therapeutic landscapes, Dr Clare Hickman, a roundtable on ‘Activities in ‘Nature’ for Improved Personal and Social Wellbeing: Practice and Research’ led by Rebecca Crowther, plenty of time for discussion and participation. This event will investigate the meaning of ‘nature’ and ‘wellbeing’ in different cultural, environmental, therapeutic, and research contexts. Expert speakers will share their experiences and expertise, identifying shared values and points of difference. The event will showcase the perspectives of practitioners involved in innovative and sustainable approaches to care, academics working in cultural, scientific and educational fields, and representatives of wellbeing initiatives and community groups. There will also be guided walks and activities and many opportunities to contribute to the discussion. The full timetable can be found here:

The event is free and you can book by emailing Samantha Walton at, or by contacting

Organised by Dr Samantha Walton, Bath Spa University with the support of IASH and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. To find out more about Cultures of Nature and Wellbeing and to view speaker biographies, visit Cultures of Nature and Wellbeing.

Lunchtime Seminars on Emotions, Edinburgh

‘To be called by the suffering’,  Laura Candiotto (University of Edinburgh, Eidyn Centre)

Location: 23 Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh

Date: 12-2pm, 1st March 2017

Drawing on Laura’s philosophical training experience with the Venice Board of Medical Practitioners, this seminar explores the calling for a nursing career, stressing the motivational role played by affectivity within the establishment of an authentic empathic relationship with the suffering of the patients. Affective ability should be nurtured in order to sustain the practitioners’ affective commitment, which may be put at risk by every day difficulties at work.


‘Emotional care work in the ambulance service: the haunted mind’, Emma Rowland (King’s College London)

Location: 23 Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh

Date: 12-2pm, 15th March 2017

Ambulance crews play an integral role in frontline emergency care, assessing, managing, treating and transporting the public with an extensive range of conditions. In attending critical incidents, ambulance crews have to manage the emotions of their patients, relatives and potential bystanders, in addition to their own and those of their crew mate. This seminar focuses on the implications of mobile care work to crews emotional well-being, and will illuminate how the haunted mind affects the delivery of patient care on the road.


‘Techno nurses and empathetic machines: Shifting relations in shaping good care’, Professor Jeanette Pols (University of Amsterdam)

Location: 23 Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh

Date: 12-2pm, 6th April 2017

Anticipations on what new technology will do often range between grand promises, or terrible nightmares. For health care, there is the promise that technology will lead to efficiency, self-management and quality. The nightmare is that technology will make care inhumane, placing screens, beeps or numbers between caregivers and patients. Jeanette will talk about the creative ways in which caregivers and patients relate to technology, and through technology to one another.


To reserve your place please email: For further details go to