Interdisciplinary Workshop - Subversive Suffering: Pain and Patient Identity in Ancient and Modern Autobiographies

10:00am - 6:00pm / Friday 28th June 2019
Type: Workshop / Category: Department
  • Admission: Admission is free, please register here.
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Confirmed speakers:
Dr Josie Billington (English, University of Liverpool),
Prof. Paul Dieppe (Exeter Medical School, Exeter)
Prof. Brian Hurwitz (Centre for Humanities and Health, King’s College London),
Dr. Ciara Kierans (Public Health and Policy, University of Liverpool),
Dr. Daniel King (Classics and Ancient History, Exeter),
Prof. Christian Laes (Ancient History, Antwerp/Manchester)
Dr. Georgia Petridou (Archaeology, Classics and Ancient History, Liverpool)
Prof. Katharina Waldner (History of Religions, University of Erfurt)Click here to view the full conference programme.

Recent developments in medical anthropology and sociology (e.g.: Throop 2010; Bell, Kierans, and Kingdon 2016), patient history (e.g.: Petridou and Thumiger 2016), pain history (e.g.: Cobb 2017, King 2018), and pain management (Billington, J., Farrington, G., Lampropoulou, S. et al. 2017) have emphasised the mutually productive relationship between physical and psychological suffering, illness and communication. Autobiographical representations of pain from the ancient world point to a process in which individuals continually renegotiate and revise their understandings of their experiences in light of their evolving personal history and the need to create different meanings for, and understandings of, pain and illness. Analogous conclusions about the polyvalence and the centrality of pain in signifying and subverting meaning for both the patient and their healthcare provider have also emerged from recent developments in narrative based medicine (e.g.: Charon 2006; Hurwitz & Spinozzi 2011; Hurwitz and Charon 2013). The workshop brings together ancient and the modern pain narratives and explores, in particular, the ways in which pain offers individuals the capacity to revise and transform their understanding of themselves, their experiences, and their relationships with others. This mutually productive relationship, we maintain, leads to different understandings of pain and individual identity, but it also stretches the boundaries of narrative, leading to new and different ways to effective communicate what one experiences.

This event is supported by the Centre for the Humanities and Social Sciences of Health, Medicine and Technology, University of Liverpool and the A. G. Leventis Foundation through the Leventis Initiative in the Impact of Greek Culture at Exeter University.