‘From the Cradle to the Grave’: Reciprocity & Exchange in Medicine and the
Making of the Modern Arts
Date: 14th April 2011, University of Exeter
Keynote Speakers: Professor Brian Hurwitz (King’s College London) and
Deborah Kirklin MD (University College London & Editor of Medical Humanities)
‘From the Cradle to the Grave’ is an interdisciplinary event designed to
bring together postgraduate students and early career academics working
throughout the humanities, including the fields of English, Modern
Languages, Politics, Film, Classics, Medical History, Drama and Theology.
The conference will focus on the impact of health and medicine in the
‘making and unmaking’ of all modern arts, from the nineteenth century
onwards. Rather than simply examining finished texts, films, artworks or
pieces of theatre/film, the central goal of this conference is to examine
the processes by which medicine and the arts have influenced each other
across time and place and explore the ways in which both fields continue to
We will be hosting an art and screen exhibition on the relationship between
hospital art and health using artistic pieces from Devon and Cornwall,
organised in conjunction with Arts and Health South West and Royal Devon and
Exeter Hospital. The conference will also incorporate a plenary discussion
on the nature of ‘Medical Humanities’ and publishing within the field, as
part of Deborah Kirklin’s keynote address.
We encourage papers examining contemporary and historical relationships
between medicine and the arts. Possible themes include but are not limited to:
• Representations of medicine in culture (e.g. music, visual cultures, film,
and the impact of culture on health/medicine
• Ethical implications of combining medicine and the arts
• Formulating and conceptualising the field of ‘Medical Humanities’
• Theoretical and empirical approaches to studying relationships between
Medical History and the arts
• The politics, processes and limitations of exchange between medicine and
• Practice-based applications of reciprocity, such as promoting health
through the arts
We welcome papers in alternative formats, for example incorporating
performance pieces of music, dance, film or theatre. Writers, texts or
topics need not be canonical and we actively encourage papers discussing
writers, texts, visual media, theories and artefacts from around the world.
Abstracts (350 words for papers of twenty minutes duration) are invited by
21st December 2010. Please email abstracts and enquiries to conference
organisers Sam Goodman (sgg204 AT ex.ac.uk) or Victoria Bates (vlb204 AT ex.ac.uk).
The conference will be free of charge to attend, although we will encourage
delegates to give voluntary charitable donations to Paintings in Hospitals.
A limited number of travel bursaries of up to £50 are also available on
application. If you need a bursary, please express your interest to the
conference organisers when submitting your abstract.