About us

Birkbeck’s Centre for Medical Humanities was established in 2014, and draws together the research and teaching in the field of Medical Humanities which take place across the College.

Medical humanities aim to generate creative and critical discussion about the contribution and benefits that the arts and humanities can make to biomedical sciences and patient care. Our research explores the cultural, historical and social contexts of developments in medicine and healthcare, with emphases on issues including the relationship between illness, language and the clinical encounter; cultures of care; the experience of embodiment and disability; the representation of pain and illness.

At Birkbeck, we place a particularly strong emphasis on exploring the ways in which medical humanities can shape clinical practice, and on developing connections between the clinic and the academy through our innovative research projects, events, and teaching programmes.

Steering group

  • Director: Jo Winning, Reader in Modern Literature and Critical Theory, English & Humanities: relations between illness, language and the clinical encounter; medical humanities and the interface between critical theory in the humanities and clinical practice in medicine.
  • Louise Hide, Birkbeck Wellcome Trust ISSF fellow, History, Classics & Archaeology: cultures of harm in institutions for long-term adult care from the mid to the end of the twentieth century.
  • Lisa Baraitser, Reader, Psychosocial Studies: gender and sexuality, motherhood and the maternal, feminist theory, psychoanalysis, and philosophies of ethics, affects, materiality, temporality and care in health contexts
  • Suzannah Biernoff, Senior Lecturer, History of Art. Cultural history of disfigurement; representations of illness.
  • Isabel Davis, Senior Lecturer in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, English & Humanities: the history of pre-pregnancy, childlessness and conception.
  • Peter Fifield, Lecturer in Modern Literature, English & Humanities: illness in modernism, ethics, modernist archives and neuroscience
  • Emily Senior, Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Literature, English & Humanities: colonial medicine and intercultural encounter, the relationship between textual form and medical and scientific knowledge, narratives of experiment.
  • Heather Tilley, Birkbeck Wellcome Trust ISSF Fellow, English & Humanities: cultural history of blindness and touch; relationship between embodied identity and the senses in the nineteenth century; cultural history of paralysis; disability studies.
  • Sophie Jones, Wellcome ISSF Postdoctoral Fellow, English & Humanities: the politics of reproduction; contested medical conditions; diagnosis and classification; disability studies; gender and sexuality.

Where to find us