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The Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities

Edited by Anne Whitehead, Angela Woods
Associate Editor Sarah Atkinson, Jane Macnaughton, Jennifer Richards

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A field-defining collection of original critical engagements at the intersection of the biomedical sciences, arts, humanities and social sciences

  • The Introduction and 8 of the chapters in this Companion are Open Access. Click on the Resources tab below to access them.

In this landmark Companion, expert contributors from around the world map out the field of the critical medical humanities. This is the first volume to introduce comprehensively the ways in which interdisciplinary thinking across the humanities and social sciences might contribute to, critique and develop medical understanding of the human individually and collectively. The thirty-six newly commissioned chapters range widely within and across disciplinary fields, always alert to the intersections between medicine, as broadly defined, and critical thinking. Each chapter offers suggestions for further reading on the issues raised, and each section concludes with an Afterword, written by a leading critic, outlining future possibilities for cutting-edge work in this area.

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Introduction, Anne Whitehead and Angela Woods
Part I: Evidence and Experiment
1. Entangling the medical humanities, Des Fitzgerald and Felicity Callard
2. Modelling systems biomedicine: Intertwinement and the ‘Real’, Annamaria Carusi
3. Holism, Chinese medicine and systems ideologies: Rewriting the past to imagine the future, Volker Scheid
4. The lived genome, Christoph Rehmann-Sutter and Dana Mahr
5. Getting the measure of twins, William Viney
6. Paper technologies, digital technologies: Working with early modern medical records, Lauren Kassell
7. How Are/Our Work: ‘What, if anything, is the use of any of this?’, Jill Magi, Nev Jones and Timothy Kelly
8. Afterword: Evidence and Experiment
Patricia Waugh
Part II: The Body and the Senses
9. Picturing pain, Suzannah Biernoff
10. The body beyond the anatomy lab: (Re)addressing arts methodologies for the critical medical humanities, Rachael Allen
11. Touch, trust and compliance in early modern medical practice, Cynthia Klestinec
12. Reframing fatness: critiquing ‘obesity’, Bethan Evans and Charlotte Cooper
13. Reading the image of race: Neurocriminology, medical imaging technologies, and literary intervention, Lindsey Andrews and Jonathan Metzl
14. Touching blind bodies: a critical inquiry into pedagogical and cultural constructions of visual disability in the nineteenth century, Heather Tilley and Jan-Eric Olsén
15. The anatomy of the Renaissance voice, Jennifer Richards and Richard Wistreich
16. Breathing and breathlessness in clinic and culture: using critical medical humanities to bridge an epistemic gap, Jane Macnaughton and Havi Carel
17. Morphological freedom and medicine: Constructing the posthuman body, Luna Dolezal
18. Afterword: The Body and the Senses, Jo Winning
Part III: Mind, Imagination, Affect
19. Medical humanities and the place of wonder, Martyn Evans
20. Man’s dark interior: Surrealism, viscera and the anatomical imaginary, Edward Juler
21. Narrative and clinical neuroscience: Can phenomenologically informed approaches and empirical work cross-fertilise?, Jonathan Cole and Shaun Gallagher
22. On pain of death: The ‘grotesque sovereignty’ of the US death penalty, Lisa Guenther
23. Voices and visions: Mind, body and affect in medieval writing, Corinne Saunders
24. Victorian literary aesthetics and mental pathology, Peter Garratt
25. Aphasic modernism: Languages for illness from a confusion of tongues, Laura Salisbury
26. Trans-species entanglements: Animal assistants in narratives about autism, David Herman
27. Afterword: Mind, Imagination, Affect, Felicity Callard
Part IV: Health, Care, Citizens
28. Medical migration and the global politics of equality, Hannah Bradby
29. Language matters: ‘Counsel’ in early modern and modern medicine, Ian Sabroe and Phil Withington
30. Fictions of the human right to health: Writing against the postcolonial exotic in Western medicine, Rosemary Jolly
31. Culture in medicine: An argument against competence, Rebecca Hester
32. The roots and ramifications of narrative in modern medicine, Brian Hurwitz and Victoria Bates
33. Broadmoor performed: A theatrical hospital, Anna Harpin
34. On (not) Caring: Tracing the meanings of care in the imaginative literature of the ‘Alzheimer’s Epidemic’, Lucy Burke
35. Care, kidneys and clones: the distance of space, time and imagination, Sarah Atkinson
36. Afterword: Health, Care, Citizens, Stuart Murray

About the Author

Anne Whitehead is Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Newcastle University, UK. She is the author of Trauma Fiction (Edinburgh, 2004) and Memory: New Critical Idiom (Routledge, 2009). She has co-edited The Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities (Edinburgh, 2016), Theories of Memory: A Reader (Edinburgh, 2007) and W. G. Sebald: A Critical Companion (Edinburgh, 2004), as well as a special issue of Feminist Theory on feminism and affect. She has published articles on contemporary literature in a range of journals, including Modern Fiction Studies, Textual Practice, and Contemporary Literature.

Angela Woods is Senior Lecturer in Medical Humanities at Durham University and Co-Director of Hearing the Voice, a large interdisciplinary research project on voice-hearing (auditory verbal hallucination) supported by the Wellcome Trust (2012-2020). She is the author of The Sublime Object of Psychiatry: Schizophrenia in Clinical and Cultural Theory (Oxford University Press, 2011) and has published in leading medical humanities and mental health journals including Schizophrenia Bulletin, Journal of Mental Health and The Lancet Psychiatry. Angela is Deputy Director of the Durham Centre for Medical Humanities and Associate Editor of the BMJ’s Medical Humanities Journal.


[An] epic, much-awaited collection of essays that brings together an impressive list of established and emerging scholars from around the world, and provides rich insights into the current shape of the medical humanities.
- Dr Stella Bolaki, Centre for Medical Humanities

The Medical Humanities have been at the cutting edge of interdisciplinary research in the late twentieth century. But where should it go now? This volume demonstrates why the future lies with developing an exhilarating, robust, and provocative critical medical humanities, and shows us how it can be done.

- Joanna Bourke, Birkbeck, University of London

…a large and well-structured volume with a great deal of ambition.

- Sepehr Hafizi, University of Cambridge, The British Society for Literature and Science


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