Gothic and Medical Humanities Call for Papers

Proposals are invited for a special issue of Gothic Studies exploring
intersections between the Gothic and medical humanities.

Gothic studies has long grappled with suffering bodies, and the
fragility of human flesh in the grip of medical and legal discourse
continues to be manifest in chilling literature and film. The direction
of influence goes both ways: Gothic literary elements have arguably
influenced medical writing, such as the nineteenth-century clinical
case study. In this second decade of the twenty-first century, it seems
apt to freshly examine intersections between the two fields.

The closing years of the twentieth century saw the emergence of medical
humanities, an interdisciplinary blend of humanities and social science
approaches under the dual goals of using arts to enhance medical
education and interrogating medical practice and discourse. Analysis of
period medical discourse, legal categories and medical technologies can
enrich literary criticism in richly contextualising fictional works
within medical practices. Such criticism can be seen as extending the
drive towards historicised and localised criticism that has
characterised much in Gothic studies in recent decades.

Our field offers textual strategies for analysing the processes by
which medical discourse, medical processes and globalised
biotechnological networks can, at times, do violence to human bodies
and minds – both of patient and practitioner. Cultural studies of
medicine analyse and unmask this violence. This special issue will
explore Gothic representations of the way medical practice controls,
classifies and torments the body in the service of healing.

Essays could address any of the following in any period,
eighteenth-century to the present:

  • Medical discourse as itself Gothic (e.g., metaphors in medical writing; links between case histories and the Gothic tradition), and/or reflections on how specific medical discourses have shaped Gothic literary forms
  • Illness narratives and the Gothic (e.g., using Arthur Frank’s ‘chaos narratives’ of helplessness inThe Wounded Storyteller).
  • Literary texts about medical processes as torture/torment in specific historical and geographic contexts (including contemporary contexts)
  • Doctors or nurses represented in literature as themselves
  • Gothic ‘victims’, constrained by their medical environment
  • Genetic testing; organ harvest; genetic engineering; reproductive technologies; limb prostheses; human cloning, and more.

To date the links between Gothic and psychiatric medical discourse have
been the most thoroughly explored, so preference will be given to
articles exploring other, non-psychiatric medical contexts in the
interests of opening up new connections.

Please email 500-word abstract and curriculum vitae to Dr Sara
Wasson, Deadline for proposals: 1 October 2013.

1 comment

Comments are now closed.