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Call for Papers



Writing Scripts: Investigations in the Medical and Health Humanities

April 14th, 2018

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Submission Deadline: Jan 21, 2018




“I think our ligands are stories.”

-Rita Charon


In the face of complex academic, social, and political issues emerging in the 21st century, humanities

scholarship has embraced interdisciplinarity as a means of addressing such issues. One field which has

emerged from this is the “Medical and Health Humanities,” a wide-ranging body of critical thought that

examines the intersection of various forms of healthcare and medicine with human and animal interests

and engages with theoretical, pedagogical, professional, and therapeutic inquiries.

Scholars in the medical humanities have attended to the power of language, “the word,” and narrative in

ways that have great implications for professional environments, human relationships, and pedagogical

practice. The medical humanities investigates how writing, narrative, and reflection work to heal or

humanize subjects and build empathetic relationships across communities, both patient/doctor and

student/teacher alike. Applying these goals to pedagogy re-figures our notions of teacher-student

relationships, the writing process, and our curricular content.

Because the field is broad, it both lends itself to and demands a wide variety of approaches, and we

welcome work which engages with rhetorical, literary, pedagogical, feminist, postcolonial, Marxist, and

other critical frameworks in attempting to understand these issues. For example, the medical and

humanities contributes to scholarship surrounding the body by uncovering ways in which the body is

constructed by health and medical discourses, both professional and informal, while also interrogating the

personal and political consequences of those constructions. At times, they are employed to reinforce

systems of subjugation; at others, they are used--as in various art therapies, or by grassroots citizenscientists--

to reclaim political power and facilitate healing and justice.

For our 10th annual graduate conference, The English Graduate Organization of the University of

Massachusetts Amherst invites submissions which engage with and contribute to the growing medical and

health humanities. A typical submission might (but need not) address questions such as:

How do health and medical inquiries inform composition and/or classroom pedagogy?

Conversely, what do composition and/or pedagogical methodologies have to offer healthcare, medicine,

and patients?

How does memory work inform composition studies and/or classroom pedagogy?

How does the written word and/or language interact with disease, illness, and healthcare? With medicalprofessional


What is the relationship between trauma, language, narrative, and composition?

How have literary and/or cultural texts represented or addressed questions of health, illness, injury, and


How do medical or health-related rhetorics circulate, and what are the effects of that circulation?

What can we learn from investigating historical representations of medicine, and historical

understandings of health and wellness?

What methodologies might be most effective or productive in interrogating medical or health-related


How is the body (and/or the mind) constructed via various institutions or forms of discourse? How do

those constructions serve political or personal ends?

How are medical understandings deployed to further systems of oppression?

How is medical knowledge (re)appropriated to serve liberatory or positive ends?

What contributions can queer scholarship make to a broader reevaluation of medical and health


How have medicine and health worked alongside constructions of gender and sexuality?

How have medicine and health worked to sanction or resist various colonial/imperial projects?

How has race been constructed, manipulated, and marked as a result of medical and healthcare


Have medicine and health operated within economic frameworks, or worked to sanction or resist various

class-based systems of oppression?

How have the lives and uses of nonhuman animals been intertwined with medical histories and


How have medical and health issues arisen from environmental issues, and in what ways can

environmental approaches help elucidate health and medical issues?

Potential areas of study include:

- Trauma studies

- Expressive & Creative Art therapies

- Gender and Sexuality Studies

- Disability Studies

- Marxist Studies

- (Post)colonial and Globalism Studies

- Critical Race theories

- Health and Medical Rhetoric(s) & Rhetorical Studies

- Literacy Studies

- Histories of health and medicine

- Literary studies

- Animal Studies

- New Materialism(s)

- Environmental Racism/Environmental Justice

- Pedagogical and Classroom Practices