Polyphony Meets China


About the project

The Polyphony Meets China is a collaborative project between the Narrative Medicine Research Centre (NMRC) at Southern Medical University (SMU) and Durham University’s Institute for Medical Humanities. The project is spearheaded by associate editor Nicole Xuan Chen.

This project aims to provoke and catalyse reflections on core critical humanities concepts and ideas in both English
and Chinese contexts and to stimulate cross-cultural exchanges.

Specifically, the project produces two forms of engagement:

  • Translated Polyphony articles for audiences in China
  • Featured articles that explore such issues as medicine, health and illness in the sociocultural context of China as well as Chinese cultural heritage

The project also produces a “World Health Day and Disease Day” column on The Polyphony main site. This column publishes articles that highlight the Chinese philosophy in narrative medicine and stories that bring insights into Chinese healthcare and societal wellbeing.

Vision and Ethos

The Polyphony Meets China is driven by the goal of raising awareness in China of specific diseases and bodily conditions that are stigmatised or poorly understood in Chinese society. Through this project, we hope to challenge stereotypes of marginalised voices and identities in dominant discourses and contribute to breaking the silence around taboo health concerns.

The project supports health humanities researchers and healthcare practitioners from or working on under-represented cultures in building their own voice and increasing their visibility in the international arena of medical humanities. It does this through its contribution to The Polyphony’s broader “Intercultural Dialogue Dispatch” emerging theme. The Intercultural Dialogue theme invites guests from different cultural and national backgrounds to critically examine the centrality of medical humanities in the UK and North America.

The Polyphony Meets China upholds The Polyphony’s ongoing vision to challenge the predominance of English-language scholarship as the key positioning of the medical humanities discipline.

Contact Nicole Chen


Articles in Chinese

31/07/2022: The Polyphony Meets China Launching News article

03/08/2022: Graphical medicine and medical education

13/08/2022: End-of-life care

21/08/2022: Illness narrative

24/08/2022: Disability narrative

02/09/2022: Neurodiversity and autistic narrative

19/09/2022: The ethics of listening in clinical encounters

22/09/2022: Alzheimer’s disease and narrative care

08/10/2022: Medical Humanities Writing: On Close Reading

13/10/2022: Perinatal loss and narrative care

28/10/2022: How can medical humanities make you a better doctor?

04/11/2022: Medically unexplained symptoms

19/11/2022: Graphic Medicine and Chronic Illness

05/12/2022: Visual Representations of Old Age

23/12/2022: Learning How to Listen in Clinical Encounters

11/02/2023: Medical Humanities Writing: Attending to Humanities in Nursing Education

27/02/2023: MSc in Medical Humanities: Analysis of Medical Humanities Teaching Module

11/03/2023: Using stories to break the cycle of stigma and silence

25/03/2023: Grief, Reading and Narrative Time


Articles in English

Copy of Wang Xizhi’s “Letter about Sandalwood and Walnuts” (“Zhan ji hu tao tie” 旃罽胡桃帖)

Illness Narratives in a Fourth-Century Chinese Correspondence

Antje Richter explores the illness narratives in the informal correspondences of Wang Xizhi, the most celebrated of Chinese calligraphers. This essay is adapted from her journal article “The Trouble with Wang Xizhi, Illness and Healing in a Fourth-Century Chinese Correspondence”, co-written with Charles Chace and originally published in T’oung Pao.