Reading Group: Rethinking Illness Experiences. 21st June 2017

Rethinking Illness Experiences: Visual Representations of Breast Cancer


The Reading Group will meet on 21st June 3-4.30 in the Keynes Library (room 114), 43 Gordon Square, London. WC1H 0PD.

Led by film-maker, Dr Christine Douglass
As part of a 4 year project nine women diagnosed with breast cancer filmed their lives for up to 2 years. The
films were collaboratively edited into a multiscreen gallery installation, What if?, which comprises 13 hours of
film in total. The work has been presented to academic, healthcare and public audiences in the UK and USA.
Christine has studied and worked across science, healthcare, communication and the arts. This project
developed in response to ethical concerns about the way experiences of illness are researched and made
visible across sectors and disciplines. The work challenges the idealisation and homogenisation perpetuated
by clinical, social and cultural discourses that surround disease experiences, and proposes further that
research methodologies that provide agency, empower and break silences can be therapeutic for
participants in research.

Christine is currently editing a film on motherhood and breast cancer. Her next project will focus on rare
cancer experiences.

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

Christine will show a section of her film to the group. She suggests the following reading in advance.

Prior reading:
This reading is available via the Reading Group’s shared Dropbox folder: for further details of how to access, please contact Isabel Davis.

  • Berger, John, ‘The Primitive and the Professional’, In: Berger, John  (ed) About Looking (London, New Delhi, New York, Sydney: Bloomsbury, 2009).
  • Stoller, Paul, Yaya’s Story: The Quest for Well Being (Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press, 2014), final chapter.

Everyone is welcome. There is no need to book.

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 and students interested and engaged in these areas.

For details of previous sessions, please click here.


Image details/credit:
Featured/ main image: Still from Terry Burke’s film for What if?
Stills from multiscreen installation What if? T Burke, P Harris, S Light, C Douglass


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