The Greatest Hits of 2019


Since The Polyphony launched in September 2018, we have published over 136 articles, reviews and opinion pieces. Collectively these posts capture, celebrate and extend the diversity of voices in the medical and health humanities, offering an exhilarating portrait of a flourishing interdisciplinary field.

As 2019 draws to a close, we revisit our top five most-read articles of this year.

  1. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Felicity Callard’s think-piece ‘Attacks on the University Body’, published in November immediately preceding the UCU strikes, proved by far the most popular post of 2019. Outlining how the past decade of reforms in higher education have left the minds and bodies of university workers frayed and enervated, Callard argued that something useful may be marshalled from this exhaustion and put to work in the struggle against the ongoing marketisation of the university sector.
  2. In May we published a series of responses to Angela Woods, Akiko Hart and Helen Spandler’s article, ‘The Recovery Narrative: Politics and Possibilities of a Genre’. Activists Kaz DeWolfe and The Borderline Academic unpicked the pressures of adhering to consumer/user and ‘survivor’ narratives, Neely Myers affirmed the value of autobiographical power in a global context, Michael Flexer discussed the capitalist form and content of recovery narratives, and Caroline Yeo responded with poetry. Written by activists, survivors, and academics from multiple disciplines, not only was this series of posts widely read, shared and commented upon, it also successfully embodied The Polyphony’s commitment to providing a platform for a plurality of voices.
  3. Our most popular book-review of the year was independent scholar and patient advocate Adam Hayden’s assessment of Gregg Caruso and Owen Flanagan’s edited volume Neuroexistentialism: Meaning, Morals, and Purpose in the Age of Neuroscience (OUP, 2018).
  4. Dr Kate Quinn, a clinical psychologist and heavy metal enthusiast, wrote an absorbing post about the creation of the peer support project Heavy Metal Therapy, a web-based resource of recovery stories, research, music playlists and blogs about heavy metal music and mental wellbeing. Music has been consistently well-represented on The Polyphony this year, with Nathan Fleshner’s column on music theory and psychology attracting a significant readership.
  5. Alexandra Stephenson and Camilla Mørk Røstvik asked what the history of surgery can tell us about menstruation. Exploring the archives of the Surgeon’s Hall Museum in Edinburgh, they found a collection that reflects and reinforces, but also provides solutions to, menstrual stigma. Stephenson and Røstvik’s post marked the launch of the Menstruation Research Network.

Thanks to everyone who has written, read, shared or commented on work published by The Polyphony this year, as well as to editor-in-chief Angela Woods (currently enjoying a well-deserved maternity leave), associate editors Sarah Spence, Katrina Longhurst, Harriet Cooper, and Tehseen Noorani, columnists Nathan Fleshner, Beata Gubacsi, Leah Sidi and Victoria Hume, and technical support team Rebecca Doggwiler and Sarah McClusky.

On behalf of everyone at The Polyphony, we wish you a wonderful winter break, and look forward to bringing you the most exciting new work in the medical and health humanities in 2020.

Fiona Johnstone, acting editor-in-chief.

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