CfP: Contemporary Womxn’s Writing and the Medical Humanities: 2021 Conference

CfP: Contemporary Womxn’s Writing and the Medical Humanities: 2021 Conference
20 February 2021, 11.00pm - 11.59pm
Call for Papers

Image: Cellular Space by Odra Noel, Wellcome Collection CC BY-NC 4.0

Abstracts: 20 February 2021 (extended deadline)

Conference: 29–31 July 2021

Organisers: Rebecca Rosenberg (King’s College London) and Benjamin Dalton (Université Paris Nanterre)

The medical humanities describes an increasingly prevalent and diverse field which seeks to explore interdisciplinary dialogues and crossovers between the health sciences and the humanities. This field, for instance, tests what disciplines such as literary and film studies, philosophy, history of medicine, ethics and many more can offer to our understanding of medicine and health care, and vice versa. This international conference, run in association with the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Women’s Writing (CCWW) and hosted by the Institute of Modern Languages Research (IMLR), undertakes to explore how contemporary womxn’s writing—across fiction, poetry, non-fiction, (auto)biography, philosophy, comics, etc.—approaches illness, medicine, and public health. What are the distinct innovations that contemporary womxn’s writing brings to the medical humanities? And  what do the medical humanities bring to the study of contemporary womxn’s writing? 

Following the successful online seminar series ‘Contemporary Women’s Writing and the Medical Humanities’ (September 2020-March 2021), this international conference aims to continue the rich dialogue and research that have defined the seminars thus far. In this conference, we particularly encourage work on womxn, non-binary, trans and LGBTQIA+ experiences. It will continue the seminar series’ aim to explore how contemporary womxn’s writing (be this fiction, non-fiction, poetry, (auto)biography or life writing, philosophical and theoretical writing, comics, etc.) is currently engaging with issues such as illness, disease, healthcare, medical practice, and clinical institutions. 

This conference is organised around several central objectives. Firstly, it seeks to establish and expand upon a reservoir of key figures in contemporary womxn’s writing whose work resonates with the medical humanities. This would include both well-known writers who might not have been considered in relation to medical humanities before, and also lesser known writers who demand more critical attention. In this way, the conference aims to showcase the diverse, interdisciplinary, and intersectional ways in which contemporary womxn’s writing engages with the medical humanities and explore how this engagement might transform the critical legacies already surrounding these writers. Secondly, the conference undertakes to underline and highlight the importance of the study of contemporary womxn’s writing in relation to medical humanities research, and in relation to medical research and practice more broadly. Finally, the event will showcase what healthcare and innovative medical thought can do for contemporary, intersectional feminisms, and highlight the role of contemporary womxn’s writing in challenging imbalances in power and representation in medical discourses and practices. 

A publication stemming from both the seminar series and the conference has been planned, and we will be holding workshops at the conference to bring potential contributors into dialogue.

Papers given at the conference might address, although need not be limited to, the following areas:

Representations of clinical spaces and architectures
Narrative representations of psycho-medical personnel 
Health care and contemporary feminisms
Illness narratives and life-writing studies, including autofiction
Illness metaphors and aesthetics
Anti-racism work and dismantling white supremacy in healthcare  
Queerness and psycho-medical institutions
(A)sexuality and pleasure in healthcare
Trans health representation and rights
Intersex healthcare, representation, politics, and art 
Navigating illness representation on social media
Female agency in illness
Reproductive health, pregnancy and childbirth
Wellness: the lure of cures for patriarchy and capitalism.
Madness: gendered experiences of mental illness.

We welcome abstracts from researchers across all arts and humanities, medical, and scientific fields, as well as artists and creative practitioners. Please send abstracts of maximum 300 words and a short biographical note to by Saturday 20 February 2021 (extended deadline).


Cathy Collins
020 7862 8738