Reading Group, Summer 2016: Medicine and Care

The Birkbeck Medical Humanities Reading Group aims to create a space in which academics, clinicians and students can come together to explore key readings, ideas and materials in the field of medical humanities. Our endeavour is to find ways of talking across the different disciplines of the humanities and medicine, and we welcome participation from colleagues interested and engaged in these areas.

Summer 2016

This term, we continue to explore the theme of medicine and care.

Session 1: Wednesday 1 June, 3.30-5pm.

Room 112, Birkbeck School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD.

Suffering and care

Mentally illWhat is it that makes a person want to reach out and help a complete stranger who is suffering even if that stranger may not show any reciprocity to the other, may be hostile to that person or may have hurt that person?
Within the healthcare environment, why do some nurses not reach out to patients in their care but instead cause further pain and suffering? These are the questions we will explore through critical texts; vignettes; and music.


Set texts:

  • Jack Coulehan, ‘Compassionate Solidarity: Suffering, Poetry and Medicine’, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 52:4 (2009), 585-603
  • Caroline Kangwa, ‘Traditional Healing and Western Medicine: Segregation or Integration?’
  • Selected extracts from Elgar Cello Concertos; Tshikona (a South African dance)
  • Short vignettes

Please contact Heather Tilley to access the readings and recordings.


Session 2: Friday 24 June, 3.30-5pm, with Persephone Books

Room 112, Birkbeck School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD

violet-huntNorah Hoult, There Were No Windows (1944). Based on the last years of the writer Violet Hunt (pictured left), a once-glamorous woman living in Kensington during the Blitz who is now losing her memory, the novel’s three ‘acts’ describe with insight, humour and compassion what happens to ‘Claire Temple’ in her last months.

We are delighted that this session will be introduced by colleagues from Persephone Books in Bloomsbury. Members of the reading group can benefit from a discount (£10 rather than usual retail price of £12) if they buy the book in-store.

For further details and to access the readings please contact Heather Tilley.

For more information about travelling to Birkbeck School of Arts, click here.

For details of previous sessions, please click here.



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