Editor in Chief Chase Ledin takes a look at The Polyphony activities from 2022
Here at The Polyphony, we have had an incredible publication year in 2022. First, we published a wide range of themes, topics and authors contributing to the advancement of knowledge and public engagement in the medical and health humanities. Then we welcomed several new staff members to our team (and notably, we look forward to introducing a few more in 2023). We also started several new projects to push the critical medical humanities field in new directions. Finally, we established a vision to overcome some of the major barriers in the medical humanities, including a burgeoning strategy to foreground multi-lingual and cross-cultural conversations which begin to address academic and editorial practices in the Global North and South.
In this year in review, we’ll explore some these initiatives and highlight key themes and contributions from 2022.
Projects & Initiatives
In July 2022, The Polyphony launched the sub-theme “MedHums 101,” seeking to re-visit and unpack core definitions, concepts and themes within the medical and health humanities. Led by Associate Editor Aly Fixter, the MedHums 101 theme has amassed a variety of compelling articles about the history of the medical humanities, the role of critical theory and analysis, and the importance of rhetoric in studies of medical education and history.
In September 2022, The Polyphony and the Narrative Medicine Research Centre (NMRC) at Southern Medical University (SMU) established a partnership to provoke and catalyse reflections on core critical humanities concepts and ideas in both English and Chinese contexts and to stimulate cross-cultural exchanges. Led by our Associate Editor Nicole Chen, this partnership translates articles from The Polyphony into Chinese-language articles accessible for readers in China. This initiative encourages conversations across the sociocultural context of China as well as Chinese cultural heritage, and has led to several exciting contributions from scholars in China’s burgeoning medical and health humanities research.
Visit the Polyphony Meets China to learn more about this ongoing project.
In December 2022, The Polyphony and the UK National Survivor User Network partnered to develop a call for contributions about the role of orientalism within mad liberation, mental health, and clinical research and practice. Spearheaded by Tehseen Noorani, Akiko Hart and Mary Sadid, this springboard initiative welcomes short articles to be published on The Polyphony which trace, resist and overturn the problematic histories and tendencies of imperialism, racism, and orientalism across mental healthcare, wellbeing and biomedicine — especially from practitioners, doctors, academics, and outreach specialists working in mental healthcare and research.
Visit the Call for Contributions to learn more about this ongoing initiative.
Key Themes & Contributions
This year saw a wide range of topics, themes and critical explorations of the medical and health humanities. This included unique focus on old age and ageing processes, chronic illness and temporalities, the role of medical humanities theory and its intersection(s) with practice and engagement, multi-media narrative production, and posthuman and animal studies. To draw out some of these themes, below are five interesting highlights from this year’s publication collection.
(1) Seeing Wrinkles, Spotting Greys (16th February)
Caitlin Doley takes a look at the visual arts – specifically oil paintings from the 17th and 20th centuries – and argues that age studies needs to attend more closely to “the old” and what “getting old” means for the medical humanities.
Alba de Juan traces animal imagery in Irish poet Leanne O’Sullivan’s collection A Quarter of an Hour (Bloodaxe Books, 2018) and illuminates the need for an empathatic approach to a multi-species understanding of health in society.
Veronica Heney details a user-led initiative dedicated to thinking more critically and care-fully about self-harm, particularly by centring and foregrounding the vocies of people with lived experiences through creative storytelling workshops.
(4) Chronicity: Future in the Past (28th July)
In a two-part series, Alex Henry uses auto-theory to dive into an exploratory realm of crip space-time, where literature and Sci Fi, feminist epistemology, illness narratology, and imaginative capacities intersect and produce new worlds.
(5) In the Zine House (13th October)
In this six-part series, Lea Cooper ventures into multiple rooms in a “zine house,” exploring when, where, how and why zines are produced and the forms of health, illness, disability, neurodivergence and madness that emerge from these spaces and materialities.
Thank You & Happy Winter Holidays
On a final and personal note, I want to thank the hard-working associate editors whose exceptional editing and author support have provoked these many topics, themes, critical explorations, projects and initiatives. I also want to thank all the authors who contributed to The Polyphony in 2022; without you, there would be no polyphony within the medical humanities. Finally, I want to thank you, dear reader, for taking the time (whether here and there or dedicated weekly) to engage with these conversations that make the medical humanities field so diverse and lively.
In 2023, we look forward to welcoming both new and returning authors to contribute to The Polyphony.
Happy winter holidays and warm wishes from The Polyphony team.