What is ‘Images of Care and Dying’ about?

“Images of Care and Dying”, our Faculty Research Group, aims to offer a genuinely innovative interdisciplinary conversation focused around the themes of affect, responsiveness and representation – each of which is needed and difficult in a palliative care context.

These issues explored in Film and Screen Studies take on new light when placed into a substantive and genuinely innovative dialogue with the practical, clinical concerns of palliative and end of life care.

What are the big questions, issues and themes that you are looking at?

Clinical practice at the end of life raises many issues which are hard to find ways to feel, think and talk about.  This results in a tendency to short-circuit the process, and move quickly into familiar and abstracted debates cut off from the felt and lived realities of daily clinical work.

The result is not only that these important debates become impoverished, but that some unbound intensity, half-voiced, is left for clinicians in making sense of their roles which discomforts and, at times, proves disruptive. For instance, the financial and resourceallocation dimensions of end of life care – and its embodiment in lonely, intimate decisions made by or between patients, loved-ones and clinicians (or imposed on them by an under-resourced health and social care sector) – form a regular part of the work, but have been short-circuited out of the literature.

Screen media is well adapted to the task of allowing questions about illness, death and dying to be articulated, thought through, felt and re-imagined. Though representational and fabricated, they offer a sharp way back in to engaging with the bustle, upheaval, misery, tenderness and clarity of clinical work in this area. Film and images have a special capacity to allow us to remain with questions and difficult experiences, feeling out their meanings and implications for us and others, deepening our imagination of what life, dying and death is or might be.

Who will the group’s seminars be of interest to?

  • Clinicians and others working in Palliative Care and with the dying and bereaved
  • Researchers in Film and Screen
  • Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities researchers working on death and dying

This is the first year for your group; how and why did the group come about?

The research group arose out of the longstanding interests of the convenors: Professor Emma Wilson in the portrayal in film of issues of mortality, as expressed in her recent book Love, Mortality and the Moving Image; Dr Stephen Barclay‘s clinical and academic work in Palliative Care. Dr Robbie Duschinsky convened an initial meeting at which the three of us explored common interests and the potential for working together. We agreed that a CRASSH research group in which we brought together experts from the worlds of film and palliative care would be a novel and innovative approach to multi-disciplinary working in this area.

Where can people find out more?

The group is planning five seminars throughout the 2016-17 academic year. The details are here on the CRASSH website and you can stay uptodate with the CRASSH weekly newsletter.



Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk