Medical Humanities PG Skills Workshop, Queen’s University Belfast

Date: 7 November 2013

Location: Postgraduate Centre, Queen’s University Belfast

Workshop description:

This one-day workshop is organised across the Schools of Modern Languages, English, and History and Anthropology and supported by the Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities. It is open to MA and Doctoral level research students who are interested in or are currently pursuing research in the medical humanities. It brings together a broad range of specialists across different subject areas and institutions who will provide their own personal insights into the opportunities and resources available to students interested in the Medical Humanities across history and literature and ranging from the 17th – 21st centuries, as well as a focus on the development of a range of skills essential for postgraduate development.

The day will being with a plenary introduction to the resources of the Wellcome Library and opportunities in libraries and archives in the USA. The afternoon will comprise four individual strands – Spanish, French, English, and History, focusing on skills such as: conducting archival research; reading early modern documents; digitisation; ethics; medicine and literature.

There is no attendance fee for any student wishing to attend but registration is required by 18th October 2013 – see below for details.



Plenary sessions:

Dr Elma Brenner (Wellcome Library, London)
Plenary – introduction to the Wellcome Library and its holdings, highlighting the great research potential of its collections for postgraduate students in the medical humanities. The Library has its origin in the personal collection of Sir Henry S. Wellcome (1853–1936). The holdings range from medieval and early modern manuscripts to rare books, works of art, ephemera, modern medical archives and moving image and sound collections, as well as extensive collections of secondary and reference works. The history of medicine and health is broadly conceived – topics covered include witchcraft, cookery, health resorts and travel, and astrology. Dr Brenner will introduce students to the Library Catalogue, the digital content (accessible via a new tool, the ‘player’) and the digital image resource, Wellcome Images.

Dr Yarí Pérez Marín (Durham University)
Plenary – This session will provide information on a selection of major archives in the United States that may be of use to postgraduate students interested in the Medical Humanities. Beyond an overview of the strengths of the collections as it pertains to early modern science and medicine, it will give advice on how to plan a visit and maximize productivity and will discuss existing fellowship and grant opportunities at some of the institutions.

French session:

Dr Larry Duffy (University of Kent)
Key methodological and practical issues for interdisciplinary research in the medical humanities, focusing on preparation for and use of archives, the extent, value and relevance of archival and library (including Special Collections) resources available to Medical Humanities researchers in the UK and France, and a demonstration of any web-based discovery tools or digitized resources, all within the context of his research on the history of scientific and professional disciplines in nineteenth-century French culture.

Dr Steven Wilson (Queen’s University Belfast)
A case study on the interfaces of medicine and literature in nineteenth- and twentieth-century France, with specific reference to the genre of autopathography, an important resource for students interested in the medical humanities. It will examine the shift in approaches to medical history in recent years, away from the ‘top down’ theories of clinicians towards a more considered view of the ’embodied’ experience of disease and suffering in so-called illness narratives.

English session:

Prof. Andrew Carpenter(University College Dublin)
Science, Medicine and Literature in Ireland before 1800: how to use the archives and the printed resources.
After a brief survey of the extent of surviving printed and manuscript sources for the study of science, medicine and literature in pre-Union Ireland, this session will show participants how to find and use these rich and currently under-utilized materials.

Dr Vike Plock (University of Exeter)
James Joyce and medicine
A case study to discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by sholars engaged in interdisciplinary research (literature and medicine). She will address the question of how literary texts, modernists texts in particular, engage with medical debates of their time and answer questions about methodology and practical issues concerning research into literature and medicine.

History session (Sources and case studies – including round table discussion):

Dr Elma Brenner (Wellcome Library, London)
Sources for scholarly and ‘popular’ medicine in the medieval and early modern periods.

Dr Ciara Breathnach (University of Limerick)
The experience of TB in pre-penicillin Ireland: the patient perspective.

Dr Sean Lucey (Queen’s University Belfast)
Pre-welfare state health-care systems in the twentieth century: the case of Belfast.

Latin American/Spanish session:

Dr Miruna Achim (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Cuajimalpa, México)
Sources for the study of  Mexican medicine in the the 16th-19th centuries: the uses of astrological forecasts.

Dr Mauricio Nieto Olarte (Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia)
Images and maps as sources of research and historical enquiry

Dr Marcelo Figueroa (Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, CONICET, Argentina) 


Travel to Queen’s University Belfast

Campus Map (see location 4 for Postgraduate Centre)



Registration details – registration deadline 18th October 2013

For further details contact: Robyn Atcheson (

Event organisation team: Dr Fiona Clark (School of Modern Languages); Mark McKinty (School of Modern Languages); Robyn Atcheson (School of History); Sheila Rooney (School of English)

Comments are closed.