This is my Body

18 November 2013 - 19 November 2013

William Harvey Lecture Theatre, Addenbrooke's Clinical School

Registrations are now closed


Twitter Hashtag: #CRASSHbody



Dr Olivia Will (Department of Surgery, Addenbrooke's Hospital)

Dr Lucy Razzall (Faculty of English, University of Cambridge)


The relationship between the mind and the body raises innumerable challenging questions across the arts, humanities, and social science disciplines. For those who come into professional contact with the human body every day in the National Health Service, the mind and the body are usually considered distinct from each other. This is even reflected in the organisational structure of the NHS, where mental health trusts are separate from other healthcare services. Any medical interpretation of the human body, even while it is grounded in empirical evidence, is also inevitably shaped by the intricacies of cultural context, but this is often overlooked in contemporary medicine.

Keynote speakers: Ludmilla Jordanova (Durham) and Rowan Williams (Magdalene College, Cambridge)

Confirmed speakers include: Prof Robin Kirkpatrick (Modern and Medieval Languages), Dr Hester Lees-Jeffries (English Literature), Prof Andrew Bradley (Transplant and Academic Surgery)


Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH)

Accommodation for non-paper giving delegates

We are unable to arrange accommodation, however, the following websites may be of help.

Visit Cambridge
Cambridge Rooms
University of Cambridge accommodation webpage

NB. CRASSH is not able to help with the booking of accommodation.


Administrative assistance:


9.00 - 9.30

Registration and coffee

9.30 - 9.45


9.45 - 10.45


  • Ludmilla Jordanova (Durham University): Cultures of Surgery

Chair: Olivia Will

10.45 - 11.15


11.15 - 13.00


  • Roger Kneebone (Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College): Performing surgery: embodied practice in the operating theatre
  • Hester Lees-Jeffries (Faculty of English, University of Cambridge): Shakespeare’s incisions, or scars that never felt a wound: language, performance, experience
  • Christopher Bass (John Radcliffe Hospital): The somatic presentation of psychological distress: the mind/body problem
  • Tariq Ahmad (Addenbrooke’s Hospital): The ‘Art’ of Plastic Surgery: Aesthetics; ‘ ideal’ form; geometry and caricature: drawing  & sculpture with the human body as the canvas and carving block?

Chair: Robin Kirkpatrick

13.00 - 14.00


  • Posters will be available for viewing in the Foyer
  • "Golden Window" (22 mins) will be showing at 13.30 in the Theatre
14.00 - 15.30


  • Sarah Gull (West Suffolk Hospital): ‘Why didn’t you come before?'
  • Liberty Walther Barnes (Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge): The Body as Communication Technology: A Case Study of ‘Infertile’ Orthodox Jewish Men
  • Ina Linge (University of Cambridge): Bodily Relations, Bodily Creations: Representations of Embodiment in Early Twentieth-Century Life Writing of Gender and Sexual ‘Deviants'

Chair: Annie Ring

15.30 - 16.00


16.00 - 17.30


  • Adrian Harris (Hinchinbrooke Hospital): Living Anatomy
  • Leah Astbury (University of Cambridge): Mother and Child: Maternal and Infant Health in Early Modern England
  • Nina Hallowell et al (Institute of Public Health, Cambridge): The impact of total gastrectomy upon experience of hunger: embodiment and disembodiment
  • Harold Ellis (Department of Anatomy & Human Sciences, King’s College, London): A lifetime learning, using and teaching anatomy

Chair: Eamonn Coveney

17.30 - 18.30

Drinks reception and poster discussions


9.00 - 9.30


9.30 - 9.45


9.45 - 10.45


  • Rowan Williams (Magdalene College, Cambridge): Possibilities of Situations: body, language, and knowledge

Chair: Lucy Razzall

10.45 - 11.15


11.15 - 12.45


  • Robin Kirkpatrick (Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages, University of Cambridge): Dante and the body
  • Andrew Bradley (Department of Surgery, University of Cambridge): Transplantation: organ ownership, personal identity and psychological consequences
  • Kajsa Widegren & Erika Alm (Department of Cultural Science, University of Cothenburg): Voicing difference: resisting the notion of authentic voice

Chair: Raphael Lyne

12.45 - 14.00


  • A tour of art around Addenbrookes led by Damian Hebron, Head of Addenbrookes Arts, departing from the foyer at 13.00 (for up to 20 people)
14.00 - 15.30


  • Isabelle Vella Gregory (Christ’s College, Cambridge): Body, gender, and identity: the perspective from archaeology
  • Robert Whitaker (Department of Anatomy, University of Cambridge): Illustrating Operation Notes and Beyond
  • Simon Jackson (Clare Hall, University of Cambridge): ‘And tune my breath to groans’: George Herbert, Suffering, and Song

Chair: Tariq Ahmad

15.30 - 16.00


16.00 - 17.30


  • Hannah Newton (Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge): ‘O how sweet is ease!’: Recovering from Illness in Early Modern England, 1580-1720
  • Rachael Pack (Department of Women’s Studies and Feminist Research, University of Western Ontario):(Re)Covering the Body: Cancer, Abjection and the Look Good, Feel Better Program Eamonn Coveney (West Suffolk Hospital): Hypnosis, Pain, and Surgery
  • Eamonn Coveney (West Suffolk Hospital): Hypnosis, Pain, and Surgery
  • Jan Draper (Department of Nursing, Open University): Embodied practice: rediscovering the ‘heart’ of nursing

Chair: Maryon McDonald

17.30 - 18.30

Short singing performance: “Body Transformations - four works by Byrd, Palestrina, Eccard and Walford Davies” (sung by Alexander Hardy, Nigel Hall, Olivia Will, Rachel Brock, Mary Ward, Robert De Wolf, Simon Jackson)

Drinks Reception


Ludmilla Jordanova - Cultures of Surgery
All medical fields have their cultures, both among professionals and in the wider world.  Such cultures tend to be metaphorically rich.  By that token surgery has been associated with, variously, butchery, cutting open, delving inside, mutilation, penetration and so on.  We can see these features in satires, which for several centuries have developed a critical language, visual as well as verbal, for speaking about the aspects of surgery that perhaps seem most frightening to outsiders, and that may sometimes be embraced by insiders in developing a collective identity.  Feminist commentators and artists have been particularly alert to the gender issues embedded in medical cultures generally, and surgical cultures specifically.  I was first working on these themes in the 1980s, but since then a good deal has changed.  One of the most striking shifts is the rise of elective surgery, which covers a wide range of phenomena, but in all cases is capable of shedding light on the ways people think about, represent and spend money on their bodies.  Another is the interest in disability.  My current interest is primarily in visual representation.  So I also can’t help but observe how persistent religious motifs are in the representation of pain, suffering and bodily mutilation.  My talk will consider a range of artistic representations of bodies in the context of surgery, for example, by Barbara Hepworth in the 1940s and John Bellany in the 1980s, and explore how we might use them to think about broader historical and political issues.  Surgeons’ relationships with human bodies have been contentious for a long time; visual culture offers rich opportunities for exploring the complexities involved.

Ludmilla Jordanova is Professor of History and Visual Culture at the University of Durham.  She has held posts at the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Essex, York, East Anglia and at King’s College, London.  Her training was in the natural sciences, history and philosophy of science and art history.  She has long worked on aspects of medicine, and she seeks to blend history and art history while doing so.  A Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery between 2001 and 2009, she is currently a Trustee of the Science Museum group.  The Look of the Past: Visual and Material Evidence in Historical Practice came out in 2012; she is currently preparing the third edition of History in Practice and writing a book about ‘medical’ portraits to be called Traces of Life.

Rowan Williams - Possibilities of situations: body, language, and knowledge
Rowan Douglas Williams is an Anglican bishop, poet and theologian. He was the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, Metropolitan of the Province of Canterbury and Primate of All England, offices he held from December 2002 to December 2012. He was previously Bishop of Monmouth and Archbishop of Wales, making him the first Archbishop of Canterbury in modern times not to be appointed from within the Church of England. He spent much of his earlier career as an academic at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford successively. Apart from Welsh, he speaks or reads nine other languages. In  2013, he was appointed Master of Magdalene College in Cambridge.


Roger Kneebone - Performing surgery:  embodied practice in the operating theatre
A widely recognised image of the surgical team reveals a group of skilled craftsmen performing delicate, precise manoeuvres upon an unconscious patient whose ‘personhood’ has been temporarily suspended by anaesthesia. By exploring the operating theatre as a space where multiple bodies intersect, and by framing surgery as a closely choreographed performance of embodied acts, Kneebone sets out to unravel some of these preconceptions. Although the patient’s body is the primary focus, the physicalities of the surgical team are equally significant. Kneebone examines how instruments and technologies modulate and shape the interaction between one person’s body and another’s, and how that relationship is changing. The paper highlights a relatively recent shift from open surgery (where surgeons can see and touch organs directly) through keyhole surgery (where the patient’s organs are shown on screen by a videocamera and where manipulations are performed using long thin instruments inserted through tiny ‘ports’) to interventional procedures (mediated through flexible wires inserted in remote parts of the body and controlled by imaging technology rather than directly viewed). While open and keyhole surgery is usually performed under general anaesthetic, interventional procedures often take place under local anaesthesia. So although in one sense the move away from direct vision and touch to a more technology- driven alternative increases remoteness and detachment, paradoxically such technology may also restore the vivid ‘presence’ of a conscious patient during the operation. This paper will explore how viewing surgery simultaneously as performance, as craft and as professional practice may shed light on the complex relationships between people, their bodies and their interactions.

Hester Lees-Jeffries - Shakespeare’s incisions, or scars that never felt a wound: language, performance, experience
Fatally stabbed by Tybalt, Mercutio protests to his friends Romeo and Benvolio that his wound is ‘not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door’ (3.1.98-9). In the confusion of the moment, that Mercutio is being scrupulously accurate is easily overlooked, and indeed it must be: there is of course no wound of any kind in the actor’s body, and all such theatrical incisions ultimately remain (in Romeo’s own earlier metaphor) ‘scars that never felt a wound’ (2.2.1). Yet Shakespeare’s characters and contemporaries repeatedly imagine, and attempt to describe and define, the interior of the body, not least as it is penetrated or opened by a blade. Recent critical work has explored blood, skin, organs, and entrails, often in terms of the spectacular body and changing understandings of anatomy and physiology in early modern culture. This paper takes as its starting point the theatrical event, considering ways in which the wounded body might be staged, setting the linguistic evocation of the incision alongside its performance. Noting the way in which the bloodstained textile often stands for the bleeding wound, it goes on to consider the ways in which wounds themselves are imagined in terms of folded cloth, and the role of textile and other metaphors in describing and demarcating both the penetrated surfaces of the body and the spaces opened up within them.

Christopher Bass - The somatic presentation of psychological distress: the mind/body problem
One fifth of all patients who present to their GPs and almost half of those who attend out patient clinics in general hospitals report physical symptoms but the doctor is unable to detect organic disease. In this paper I will attempt to describe how this has come about and explain why many doctors lack skills in identifying patients who present in this way. I will also describe common and complex disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia and attempt to explain why these disorders are so difficult to manage. More exotic manifestations of psychological distress such as “hysterical conversion syndromes” and psychogenic movement disorders will be covered, and I will provide evidence that these disorders have not disappeared from clinical practice, as social historians would have us believe. I will also describe the rarer types of abnormal illness behaviour such as factitious or simulated illness, when patients feign illness, as well as the controversial topic of fabricated or induced illness [what used to be called Munchausen syndrome by proxy], when a carer fabricates symptoms in a child in their care. I will conclude by emphasizing that all illness has a psychosocial dimension, and that doctors in training need to understand the confines of the biomedical model.

Tariq Ahmad - The ‘Art’ of Plastic Surgery: Aesthetics; ‘ ideal’ form; geometry and caricature: drawing  & sculpture with the human body as the canvas and carving block?
Tariq Ahmad discusses his work as a plastic surgeon, where drawing and sculpting takes place on a three-dimensional, living structure. He will consider artistic conceptualisation in plastic surgery; patterns of perception of body contour with form and object recognition illustrated by surgical examples. What is beauty if it can be contextualised by cultural diversity both geographic and temporal; is it really in the eye of the beholder or can there be a scientific foundation?

Sarah Gull - ‘ Why didn’t you come before? ‘
WH Auden’s poem Miss Gee describes a late diagnosis of gynaecological cancer. The doctor asks the question: “why didn’t you come before”, but doesn’t receive an answer, which is implied by the tale of sexual  and  emotional  repression,  religious guilt and loneliness. Can these reflections have relevance for us in the diagnosis of gynaecological cancer?
Late Diagnosis of cancer was a factor identified by the Cancer Reform strategy in 20072 as a major factor in the UK contributing to poor cancer survival rates.  The report  identified the need to understand more about the nature and extent of delays in cancer diagnosis.
The Gynaecological Cancer Unit at The West Suffolk Hospital serves a population of around 300,000, of whom there are around  1000 referrals per year for investigation.  Around 10% of referrals have a new gynaecological cancer. From this experience the author will present some memorable examples of late diagnosis that she was involved with over the past five years and will reflect on factors which contributed to their late presentation. These include reticence on the part of the patient from fear or embarrassment and difficulties in the doctor patient relationship, including the doctor’s reticence to ask the question: “Why didn’t  you come before?” once a late diagnosis has been made.  This is an important question for the Cancer Reform Strategy, but would need to be asked in a sensitive manner if the nature and extent of delay is to be honestly explored with patients, and is not necessarily appropriate outside a research setting.

Liberty Walther Barnes - The body as communication technology: a case study of ‘infertile’ Orthodox Jewish men
Social scientists conceptualise the human body as a medium of culture, embedded with values, beliefs and logics.  Other scholars in psychology, linguistics, and speech pathology recognize the body as a tool for communication, through facial expressions, body language and sign language.   In this paper I draw upon my ethnographic fieldwork in male reproductive health centers to build upon literatures of the body.  I argue that the human body can serve as more than a tool for communication – it can provide a site for and mode of communication, a physical medium through which medical practitioners communicate with and educate their patients.   During my fieldwork I became familiar with an Orthodox Jewish patient population who did not understand the basic mechanics of sexual intercourse and the biology of reproduction.  Rather than verbally explain sex to his patients, one doctor I shadowed encouraged his male patients to undergo invasive diagnostic and therapeutic medical procedures to achieve pregnancy.  The doctor explained to me that he could not discuss sexual matters openly with his patients because he needed to be sensitive to their religious culture.  Later I discovered that medicalising perfectly fertile Jewish men was a routine practice in the clinic, one that generated substantial revenue and accolades from the unwitting local Jewish community.   This paper addresses the ethics and social politics of bodily exploitation in the name of “cultural sensitivity.”  However, my philosophical point is that when practitioners abstain from using spoken language to communicate with patients, patients’ bodies serve as a symbolic linguistic medium, a proxy for the verbal linguistic system, through which doctors teach patients the basics of their own bodily system, biology and physiology.

Ina Linge - Bodily relations, bodily creations: representations of embodiment in early twentieth-century life writing of gender and sexual ‘deviants’
In life writings of gender and sexual “deviants” from the early twentieth century, one scene stands out: the moment of disrobement in front of the medical practitioner, the revelation of the deviant body hidden at all other times––and the reader’s realisation that this naked body is not revealed in the narrative, that it eludes us at the crucial moment. What is this body, we ask, and if it is not present in this moment, then where precisely can it be found?
This paper responds to these questions by pointing out representations of embodiment in two German, quasi-autobiographical narratives from 1907: Aus Eines Mannes Mädchenjahren/A Man’s Maiden Years, published under the telling pseudonym, N. O. Body, and Eine Männliche Braut (“a male bride”), published anonymously with only the name of the editor, Walter Homann, given. Engaging in a close reading of these texts that arose from within the context of German Sexualwissenschaft/sexology, I will argue that embodiment is situated in and created through language and interpellation, and in the relations that are thus established between self and others, in particular the relation between patient and practitioner, but also narrative and reader. I will examine text passages that describe the act of and relation implied in disrobing, looking, touching, judging and displaying, emphasising the importance of listening and responding as a crucial part in the creation and sustainment of embodied identities. The aim of this paper is to locate the body in narrative self-accounts of gender and sexual “deviants” and to gain an understanding of how embodiment is shaped through language and one’s relation to others. This examination will inform an understanding of embodiment beyond physicality and indicate a need for the provision of care that acknowledges self-narration as a crucial aspect of embodiment.


Leah Astbury - Mother and child: maternal and infant health in Early Modern England
Drawing on life-writing sources and medical texts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in this paper I ask how infant and maternal bodies were conceptualized in early modern England. I question how both families and medical practitioners navigated the perceived boundary between these bodies and attempted to satisfy their respective medical needs in the corporeal states of pregnancy, childbirth and after-birth care and recovery. Previous scholarship has examined the power of the maternal imagination in early modern lay and medical thought, believed to shape and alter the unborn child’s development and character. This has stressed the physical responsibility of the maternal body for infant health, a theme extended in this paper. However, this influence is often assumed to have ended with the act of birth when the bodies of mother and child were observably become separate entities. Early modern childbearing manuals, however, constructed caring for a newborn child as the extension of the process of nurturing and shaping that began in the womb extending into infancy. Early modern women’s accounts of parturition stressed the connectedness between mother and child even after birth in the intimate and highly corporeal acts of postnatal care and recovery. This paper will suggest we have perhaps neglected the complex corporeal discourses of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century mothers in examining the religious and medical landscape of England in this period.

Nina Hallowell et al. - The impact of total gastrectomy upon experience of hunger: embodiment and disembodiment
Between 30%-50% of cases of Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer (HDGC) are caused by mutations in the E-cadeherin gene. CDH1 mutation carriers have an earlier than average age of disease onset, and greatly increased risks of developing stomach cancer. Individuals identified as at-risk, either because of their family history or as a result of DNA testing, need to make decisions about risk management, whether they will have risk-reducing surgery (total gastrectomy - RRG) or continue screening. This retrospective study interviewed 42 patients, 27 of whom had undergone RRG. In this paper we will reflect upon the impact of surgery on bodily integrity and look at people’s experiences of living without a stomach. The paper will focus upon eating post surgery, and discuss the ways in which surgery impacts upon identity. We will demonstrate that following surgery, hunger and satiety are constructed as disembodied experiences or desires that need to be re-embodied. Finally, we will argue that the process of re-embodying these supposed “physiological” states raises a number of issues about the nature of hunger and satiety. These will be interrogated using a Wittgensteinian (1952) analytic framework in which internal states are understood as grounded within public criteria.  

Robin Kirkpatrick - Dante and the Body
Dante’s science and his theology also insist that, in the human person, there can be no dualistic division between body and soul. Yet Dante stands at a point in history when materialistic conception of our physical nature had begun to gather momentum. In the Inferno, the poet looks at the dire consequences that follow from any such understanding. The Purgatorio and Paradiso imagine alternative positions, redeeming the body, in its significance and grace, from many by-now familiar misapprehensions.

Andrew Bradley - Transplantation: organ ownership, personal identity and psychological consequences
Organ and tissue transplantation has raised profound moral and philosophical questions about the nature and ownership of body parts and their exchange between individuals. The use of organs from both deceased and living donors has necessitated a re-evaluation of cultural views on organ ownership and exchange, and the need to address issues of directed versus non-directed donation, anonymity and reward.  Transplantation also poses challenging questions in terms of personal identity, particularly when it involves transplantation of visible tissues such as in limb and face transplantation. For recipients of transplants, the psychological and social implications are considerable and it is important that these are considered from a holistic perspective if the benefits of transplant are to be maximised.

Kajsa Widegren & Erika Alm - Voicing difference: resisting the notion of authentic voice
The human voice is often described as an articulation of individuality and highly invested in cultural symbols and notions of femininity and masculinity. As such the voice is also understood as a tool for the individual construction of identity within a network of social positions. Voice therapy is an established part of the medical management of the diagnostic range of conditions summarized under the term gender dysphoria. Trans activists and scholars have scrutinized and critiqued the normative assumptions about gender articulated in conventional speech pathology research and clinical practice. Yet other perspectives on the relation between gender and voice can be found in contemporary artistic practices, perspectives that we find useful in interdisciplinary conversations between medicine and the humanities.
The paper takes its departure in the site-specific installation by the Swedish artist Conny Karlsson Lundgren. The installation, Aleksa and the Others, consists of a video monologue and a presentation of excerpts of letters and texts by Swedish women artists from the turn of the 19th century. In the monologue, performed by trans actress Aleksa Lundberg, quotes from the artists
correspondence interplay with Lundberg’s encounters with a voice therapist. It addresses the issue of finding one’s voice within a clinical context where the voice is thought of as a medium for gender expression, and negotiating the notion of authentic femininity. The work raises questions concerning the multiple aspects of voice: voice as pedagogy and politics, voice as medium, physical voice, and voice as genre. We explore the potentials of alternative understandings of the human voice, not perceiving dissonances as failures but as an embodiment of collective experiences of femininity and masculinity.

Isabelle Vella Gregory - Body, gender, and identity: the perspective from archaeology
The body is central to archaeology’s remit to study humanity’s past and its importance goes beyond the obvious skeletal material. It is both an entity in its own right and an integral part of material culture and, more importantly, experience. Archaeology’s concern with materiality enables us to understand the body at multiple levels. This paper explores the body as an entity, a construction, the creator and maintainer of social relations and the locus for identity, power and secrets. Drawing on my research on Neolithic Malta, I show how the body creates and embodies various trajectories which are crucial to understanding the construction of identity. My research shows that identity is constructed in multiple ways, particularly via materiality and in turn shapes social relations.
These perspectives are useful for medical practitioners involved with community care and research relating to different perspectives of the body. My research goes beyond genetics and a concern with health. It looks at patterns of cultural behaviour and construction, in particular the value placed on bodies and how these are expressed. An understanding of the multiplicity of gender, sexuality and body image are important for providing a comprehensive quality of care in a modern environment where there are varying perspectives on the body rooted in multiple gender and cultural identities. In particular, archaeology’s perspective on human behaviour and relationships is useful to current practitioners who need new tools for dealing with the complexity of human relationships in the present.

Robert Whitaker - Illustrating operation notes and beyond
Communication is so very important in Medicine and one aspect is the transmission of operative information from the surgeon to both the patient and relatives and also to the nursing staff on the ward. Although  a written description of an operation is important a graphic message tells all. Equally, anatomical knowledge is transmitted better to students with ingenious images.

Simon Jackson - ‘And tune my breath to groans’: George Herbert, suffering, and song
Throughout his short life, the poet, priest and musician George Herbert (1593-1633) was afflicted by ill health – proving both a source of great frustration and artistic inspiration, and culminating in Izaac Walton’s early biographical depiction of the poet using some of his last breath to sing his poetry on his deathbed. In this paper I will examine the dynamic and intensely physical, material way in which Herbert engaged his illness; and explore how his suffering invigorates his poetry with an awareness of his body, his heart, blood, bones, bowels and breath. Presenting Henry Purcell’s late seventeenth-century setting of Herbert’s poem ‘Longing’, I will pay particular attention to the ways in which Herbert frequently conceives of suffering as ‘sounded’, sometimes as expressive yet inarticulate ‘sighs and groans’, at other times as highly-wrought artistic song. For Herbert, music-making (and singing in particular) bridges the gap between the physical and the spiritual, the body and the soul, and is a balm for times ‘when displeasure/Did through my body wound my mind’ (‘Church-music’). Finally I will argue that for Herbert, the conjunction of suffering and song allows the devotional poet an opportunity to interrogate his faith, to imagine Christ’s broken body on the cross in musical terms as the ‘stretched sinews’ of lute strings (‘Easter’), and to come to terms with his pain.

Hannah Newton - ‘O how sweet is ease!’: recovering from illness in Early Modern England, 1580-172
The historiography of early modern medicine often makes depressing reading. It implies that people fell sick, took ineffective remedies, and died. My paper seeks to brighten our picture of the patient’s story, by investigating what it was like to recover from illness. Drawing on sources such as letters, diaries, and doctors’ casebooks, it shows that recovery was a trajectory, marked by a number of key milestones or signs, such as growing cheerful, feeling hungry, and sleeping through the night. The paper investigates the patient’s emotional and physical responses to each of these milestones, showing that contrast between extreme sensations was at the heart of recovery. This research also sheds light to a number of wider themes and topics, such as family relationships, the mind-body relationship, and the internal workings of the humoral body.  

Rachael Pack - (Re)covering the Body: cancer, abjection and the look good, feel better program
Look Good, Feel Better (LGFB) is a program designed to teach female cancer patients cosmetic techniques to manage troubling appearance related problems associated with chemotherapy.  The program promises that the correct application of beauty products will have restorative effects for both the body and the mind. Cancer patients will appear more feminine, and this in turn, will relieve anxieties and reduce depression. Since its development in 1987, in the United States, the program has expanded to 21 countries throughout the world, including 59 locations in the UK which cumulatively served 1.1 million women in 2010.  The purpose of this paper is to critically consider the conditions that allow for LGFB to flourish, the anxieties it ameliorates, and the negative implications of such a framing of the “problem of cancer.”  I argue that LGBF responds to the ambiguous status of cancer which straddles the boundaries self/other,  inside/ outside and subject/object rendering cancer abject. Drawing from the theoretical work of Julia Kristeva and Jackie Stacey, I unpack our ambivalent reaction towards the visibly cancerous body and the ontological and corporeal anxiety that such a visual encounter produces. Situating this reaction in the context of neoliberal subjectivity, I argue that aesthetic programs like LGFB respond to the cultural imperative for a “clean and proper” body, and re-inscribe the notion that the abject body is one that can and should be concealed, hidden away, and overcome, leaving no cultural space in which women can confront their corporal vulnerability.

Eamonn Coveney - Hypnosis, pain and surgery
Hypnosis is a technique that over the centuries has held a unique fascination for both the public and the medical community alike. Despite this fascination, it is still perceived by the medical fraternity with some apprehension and skepticism and this has resulted in its clinical use being confined primarily to lay practitioners. More recent neuropsychological studies complemented by brain scanning techniques have demonstrated objectively that hypnosis can produce significant changes at a central level that are clinically beneficial. The evidence is strongest in the area of pain relief. This basic science research has led to a renewed interest in the clinical application of hypnosis to the management of acute and chronic pain. Drawing on the speakers own experiences, this presentation will review the history and evidence for using hypnosis in the management of patients undergoing surgery.

Jan Draper - Embodied practice: rediscovering the ‘heart’ of nursing
Over the last twenty years there has been a rapid expansion of theoretical literature concerning the body and embodiment, spanning a range of disciplines including sociology, anthropology, psychology, feminism and human geography. The potential of these insights to the essentially ‘body-based’ practice of nursing is highly significant. However, with a few notable exceptions, theoretical and empirical investigation of the body and embodiment in nursing has remained largely neglected. So, although the body is so obvious in the work of nurses – the body of the person ‘to-be-healed’ (the patient) and also the body of ‘the healer’ (the nurse) – its presence is strangely absent. At a significant juncture in nursing’s history when there is greater international focus on higher standards of care, the paper calls for a repositioning of the place of embodiment in nursing.
The paper examines different sources of authoritative knowledge concerning the body and embodiment. It argues that dominant scientific and medical epistemologies of the body have displaced
and marginalised embodied epistemologies creating only a partial understanding of the embodied experiences of our patients and our own embodiment as nurses. The paper proposes a corporeal (re)turn to nursing practice, one that recognises the lived embodied experience of the patient and the embodied skill and knowledge of the nurse. It examines how such a corporeal (re)turn is important for contemporary person-centred practice, research and education, and for the rediscovery of the ‘heart’ of nursing.

Poster Presentations

Patrick Cook - Viewing the Political Body: a case from ancient Rome
The Roman biographer Gaius Suetonius Tranquilus, writing in the early Second Century AD, composed a series of twelve biographies of Roman leaders, from Julius Caesar to the Emperor Domitian. Each of these lives includes a prolonged and elaborate description on the emperor’s body, focusing both on their physical appearance and on their health and the diseases from which they suffered. It is now generally accepted that these descriptions are not intended as a neutral representation of how each emperor actually looked. Rather, they are ideologically loaded and illustrate the character of the emperors described. However, it is not the case that emperors who are presented positively have healthy or beautiful bodies and those who are portrayed negatively are shown as ugly or diseased.
This paper will attempt to put these descriptions into a wider context of looking at the physical body in the classical world, incorporating physiognomic handbooks, portraiture, and courtroom rhetoric. It will explore, through the specific case of Suetonius’ Lives, the often complex ways in which the bodies of politicians are taken to represent their political authority more broadly. Drawing on the metaphor, popularized amongst professional historians by Ernst Kantorowicz, of ‘the king’s two bodies’, this paper will examine some of the ways in which visual descriptions of the physical body, in all its vulnerability, can be used to make political comments, a process that remains as relevant in 21st century as it was in the 2nd.

Anna Goodhart -  The relationship between heart and ‘inner self’ from Aristotle to current clinical practice
Throughout history humans have been fascinated by the heart; an organ that is demonstrably essential to physical human life, but also felt to be essential to a human’s ‘inner self’. This fascination has been explored through philosophy, science, literature, religious language, and fine arts for millennia; yet with scientific advances, physicians have become more focused on the explainable, physiological role of the heart, and less interested in the mysterious relationships it has with our ‘selves’ This poster summarises ideas of the heart’s relationship to ‘inner self’ through time, starting with Aristotelian anatomy and Old Testament language of the heart, then exploring how these ideas were developed in early modernity in the works of William Harvey, Shakespeare and  the Protestant Reformation, finally looking at modern concepts of heart/‘inner self’ interaction in theories of emotion, Takotsubo cardiomyopathy (‘broken heart syndrome’) and current research into the effect of personality type and stress on cardiac health. In conclusion, heart/‘inner self’ interactions are still real and mysterious. A better understanding may help future cardiac disease prevention and treatment.

Fiona Johnstone -  ‘Becoming an Object’: Mark Morrisroe’s AIDS Self-Portraits
Mark Morrisroe’s 1989 Polaroid Untitled (Self-Portrait) is an unflinching portrayal of the thirty- year-old artist in the last few days of his life, taken shortly before he passed away from complications related to AIDS. Shot in black and white and captured from an elevated viewpoint on the ceiling of the sick room, it presents Morrisroe naked in bed, sheets pushed aside to display the painfully emaciated body that commonly functioned as visual shorthand for ‘AIDS victim’. Activists condemned such images for constructing individuals with AIDS as the passive objects of a healthy spectator’s gaze; this paper argues that Morrisroe’s self-portrait implicitly challenges the binary discourse than underpins this position. The disconcerting directness of his own gaze and artful arrangement of his limbs into a parodically seductive pose recalls the erotic charge of the artist’s earlier self-portraits, suggesting both self-objectification and subjective agency.
In addition to a series of Polaroid self-portraits, Morrisroe also produced a number of strikingly beautiful, brightly coloured prints based on photograms of his x-rays, hand-tinting each image as if to map the effects of infection on his internal organs. If the Polaroids imply a re-appropriation of the popular media iconography of the AIDS victim, then the x-ray prints, produced in a temporary darkroom rigged up in a hospital bathroom, suggest a similar arrogation of medical spaces and technologies. Blurring the boundaries between the body’s outer surfaces and uncanny interior, these two groups of work attest to a subject that is simultaneously sovereign self and abject other, poised on the threshold of (to quote Roland Barthes) ‘becoming an object’.

Roz Oates - The Void of Memory: Reminiscence Poetry
Language poses a significant challenge for dementia sufferers. Research shows, however, that assisting those with dementia to write poems can offer helpful benefits by enabling sufferers to convey the subjective reality of dementia and by restoring personhood and dignity. It also gives caregivers valuable insight into their patients’ experience and so helps them to improve the quality of care.  I wish to explore the process of co-authoring poetry with my grandmother, who has moderate dementia, but can still recall early experiences. She is unable to accept her present life with dementia, but reflecting on positive memories of her past lives inhabiting the bodies of a young woman and of a child, encourages her to communicate more with those around her. From an autoethnographic perspective, I will reflect on the roles which we each take in this collaboration, and how the wider context of our being together and having a cup of tea, say, is crucial to creating and sharing the poems. Interested in the connections which my grandmother makes as she describes past memory, I will examine the obstacles she faces as she narrates early experiences under the shadow of dementia. I am interested in how I use my roles as both her granddaughter and collaborator to enable her voice as a dementia sufferer to emerge. I will explore how far, as the facilitator, I can convey any insights she has into the illness, while not projecting onto this my own awareness of the loss and fragmentation she has experienced.

Gillian Ray-Barruel - Autism Spectrum Disorder: beyond the medical perspective
The competing discourses of the medical, social and cultural models of disability take very different approaches to the interpretation of disability. Autism in particular has been constructed by a range of competing discursive frameworks, specifically those of medicine and psychology, and more recently by poststructural theorists and advocates for seeing autism as neurodiversity. Despite the insistence of many people with autism that autism has positive aspects, the prevailing discourse in the media and medical fraternity continues to be one of ontological negativity. Autism is too often seen as a tragic and ahistorical condition, a perspective which ignores other possibilities. In this paper, I provide a brief history of the various ways in which autism has been understood since its inception and explore how the diverse interpretations and the changing diagnostic landscape create challenges for autistic identity. As the slogan of the disability advocacy movement is “Nothing about us without us”, this research explores the perspectives presented in autism autobiographies and internet websites to understand the experiences of people with autism. Finally, I draw on my own experience as a nurse and as a parent of an autistic teenager to discuss how the perspectives of people with autism, and their parents and carers, can inform healthcare.

Leah Songhurst - Tourettes Syndrome
As a result of TV documentaries and the popular press, the neurological condition Tourettes Syndrome (TS) has a greater public profile than ever before. Living with TS and its comorbid conditions is not always easy. Its symptoms can impact on every aspect of life, not least because they are often considered socially unacceptable. This paper introduces the work of the Tourettes Listening Project. Using oral history interviews to uncover hidden voices within the TS narrative, this research encourages participants to tell their ‘TS life-story’. Preliminary findings suggest that there are popular misunderstandings about life with TS. These in turn lead to stigma and discrimination. Not everyone with TS ‘can or wants to play the drums’ for example. Upholding a plea from people diagnosed with TS to look beyond their medical diagnosis, this project explores the social implications of life with TS. In doing so it challenges preconceived ideas about disability, gender, sexuality and identity and asks that we all take time to listen.