Public Humanities

Health and Medical Humanities

Providing an ongoing forum to explore intersections between perspectives of the humanities and medico-scientific practices

As a set of disciplines, the humanities face the challenge of how to write about embodied experiences that resist easy verbal categorization such as illness, pain, and healing. The recent emergence of interdisciplinary frameworks such as narrative medicine has offered a set of methodological approaches to address these challenges.

Conceptualizing a field of medical and health humanities offers a broad umbrella under which to study the influence of medico-scientific ideas and practices on society. At stake are the problems of representation and the interpretation of cultural products from the past and present through medical models, and the challenge of establishing a set of humanistic competencies (observation, attention, judgment, narrative, historical perspective, ethics, creativity) that can inform medical practice.

The Health and Medical Humanities Initiative provides an ongoing forum at SOF/Heyman to explore these challenges and to continue to discover new methodological approaches.

Projects


Explorations in the Medical Humanities

The Explorations in the Medical Humanities Event Series explores the enigma of how what we write relates back to the experience of bodies in different stages of health and disease. Our speakers consider how the medical and health humanities build on and revise earlier notions of the “medical arts.” Recent series of note have included Rethinking Democracy in an Age of Pandemic (with Trinity Long Room Hub) and Care for the Polis (with the Humanities in Practice Initiative).

Synapsis

Co-founded in 2017 with Columbia's Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, Synapsis: A Health Humanities Journal ​publishes weekly, pu​​blic-facing scholarly articles on a range of topics in medical and health humanities—from literary theory and disability studies to bioethics and medical anthropology, as well as the work of an artist and musician in residence.

Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes Health and Medical Humanities Network

The CHCI Health and Medical Humanities Network is a hub for health and medical humanities research and collaboration.

Motherhood and Technology Working Group

The Center for the Study of Social Difference at Columbia has selected a new working group, “Motherhood and Technology", for sponsorship beginning in 2020. The group is co-organized and co-directed by Rishi Goyal and Arden Hegele; and it features participants from literature, obstetrics, sociology, law, and other disciplines.

People

Organizers

Arden Hegele is Medical Humanities Fellow and Lecturer in English and Comparative Literature. She is the principal organizer of the Explorations in the Medical Humanities series. She is the co-founder and co-editor of Synapsis: A Health Humanities Journal; the Network Administrator of the CHCI Health and Medical Humanities Network; and the co-director of the Motherhood and Technology Working Group (2020-2022). She is Project Coordinator on “Increasing COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence: An Evidence-Based Approach to Public Health Messaging,” supported by Columbia World Projects.

Rishi Goyal is Director of the Medical Humanities Undergraduate Major at the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. He is the co-founder and co-editor of Synapsis: A Health Humanities Journal; the lead of the Steering Committee of the CHCI Health and Medical Humanities Network; and the co-director of the Motherhood and Technology Working Group (2020-2022). He is also the Project Lead on “Increasing COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence: An Evidence-Based Approach to Public Health Messaging,” supported by Columbia World Projects.

Advisors

Joelle abi-Rached (Sciences Po Paris, École normale supérieure, École des hautes études en sciences sociales) was a Fellow at the Society of Fellows (2017-2019). She is a founder of the series and a member of its advisory board.

Benjamin Breen (University of California at Santa Cruz) was a Fellow at the Society of Fellows (2015-2016). He is a founder of the series and a member of its advisory board.

Heidi Hausse (Auburn University) was a Fellow at the Society of Fellows (2016-2018). She is a founder of the series and a member of its advisory board.

Lan Li (Rice University) was a Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience (2016-2019). They are a founder of the series and a member of its advisory board.

Carmel Raz (Max Planck Institute) was a Fellow at the Society of Fellows (2015-2018). She is a founder of the series and a member of its advisory board.

Affliliates

Lilith Todd is a PhD Student in English and Comparative Literature. She is the Managing Editor of Synapsis: A Health Humanities Journal.

Partners