Welcome to The Polyphony

It is no longer true to say that the medical and health humanities – here invoked in connection rather than in tension or competition – are emerging fields.

From my vantage point in Durham, writing at the cusp of the launch of the UK’s first medical humanities research institute, the intellectual energy, scholarly achievements and so-called ‘real world’ impacts that characterise work at the intersection of the humanities and healthcare is abundantly evident.

The Polyphony exists in the service of this field. It is a multi-authored, multi-faceted web platform which will illuminate the debates and insights, identify the critical lacunae, and review the publications, events and activities that constitute the medical humanities. Polyphony because our emphasis is on plurality, even at the risk of discord. Polyphony because it no longer makes sense (if it ever did) to restrain our thinking to the neat bifurcation of ‘science’ and ‘humanities’, clinician and patient, scholar and practitioner. Polyphony because critical conversations – around care, biopolitics, human and animal experience, passion, precarity and inequality – are being conducted simultaneously across a range of disciplines, sites and spaces. And we want to amplify their dis/connections.

The Polyphony is edited by Sophie Battell, Fiona Johnstone, Katrina Longhurst, Ryan Ross and Sarah Spence. Every week we will be publishing original short essays, interviews and reviews of books, conferences, exhibitions and performances of relevance to the field. We are delighted to be joined by four regular columnists: once a month you’ll hear from Nathan Fleshner on music and medicine, Beata Gubacsi on ‘Medical Humanities 2.0’, Leah Sidi on performance and Victoria Hume on Arts and Health and on the new African medical humanities network.

If you’ve been a regular reader of the Centre for Medical Humanities blog, we thank you for your engagement over the last eight years, and hope that you will join us in this new venture. Calls for papers, conference announcements and job advertisements have now all been moved to an e-list to which all can subscribe, and to which all subscribers can post: MedHealthHums.

We welcome your voice in The Polyphony. If you would like to contribute – to pitch a post or a series of posts, to offer a provocation, to propose a review – please get in touch.

We look forward to hearing from you.
Angela Woods, Editor in Chief

7 thoughts on “Welcome to The Polyphony

  1. Congratulations on the launch, Angela.
    Disappointing to see that no one with a medical or healthcare background and expertise in medical humanities has been appointed to join the very able slate of associate editors you have chosen..
    Was there a particular reason for this?
    Dr Muiris Houston
    Adjunct Prof Narrative Medicine,
    Trinity College Dublin

    1. Thanks Muiris for getting in touch. Our editors all have expertise in medical humanities research (as we understand and practice it) and were appointed through a competitive recruitment process. Interestingly there was neglibile interest in the posts from people with clinical backgrounds. We are, however, very open to proposals for guest contributions from anyone who is working in the field: https://wp.me/PabSFH-3K8

  2. Congratulation for the choice of the Name “the polyphony”…
    I think it is a very good methaphor and aspiration of what health care could be, opening to more and more humanistic voices…

    Just a short comment: where can we find the future events? Is it foressen and expansion of the editorial board and the indications of the events outside UK?

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