‘Senses and Health/care Environments’ network

‘Senses and Modern Health/care Environments: Exploring interdisciplinary and international opportunities’

This network explores opportunities for collaborative thinking, making, research and funding in the sensory history of healthcare environments. This network was funded by the Wellcome Trust from Autumn 2019 to Spring 2022, but it continues as a network now without funding. Sign up to the mailing list HERE if interested in the senses in health/care environments. This will enable you to find out about upcoming network events. We also continue to welcome contributions to this website from network members, please click HERE for further information and contact details.

Network activities

In 2019-22 this network had two main aims, with associated activities to achieve these running over its funded period (one workshop, one large conference, and three project ‘retreats’). Firstly, the core collaborators developed interdisciplinary methodologies in relation to the case study of the modern British hospital, thinking ambitiously and creatively about the potential for collaborative publications in the field. Secondly, the network expanded a small existing group of UK-based scholars working on (or near) the subject of health/care senses to become (i) more international; and (ii) more collaborative with healthcare practitioners, artists, designers and architects. Ultimately, the project initiated and deepened interdisciplinary and international networks, with the ultimate goal of collaborative funding applications and publications. 

The first workshop on ‘objects’ was on 27 August 2019 in Birmingham, before the EAHMH conference ‘Sense and Nonsense’. You can find a write up and pictures of this workshop HERE. A group of network members also presented two panels at the EAHMH conference. In 2020-21 the ‘core collaborators’ worked on a collection of multi-sensory booklets which will be available on this website very soon.

We closed the Wellcome Trust phase of our network with a conference, 4-5 April 2022, Bristol. Dr Olivia Turner has done a comprehensive write up of this conference for us, which you can find HERE. We will also have a blog in The Polyphony soon from the conference team. You can also see the original CFP HERE and the programme below:

With Victoria Bates and Rebecka Fleetwood-Smith, of the ‘Sensing Spaces of Healthcare’ project, the following group of ‘core collaborators’ are taking forward plans for an interdisciplinary and collaborative publication:

Marie Allitt is Humanities and Healthcare Fellow at the University of Oxford, on the project ‘Advancing Medical Professionalism: Integrating Humanities Teaching in the University of Oxford’s Medical School’. She is also the Postdoctoral Research Assistant for the Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research, at the University of Leeds. Marie completed her PhD in English Literature at the University of York in 2018, focusing on experiences and representations of spaces and senses in First World War medical caregiving narratives. Marie’s research focuses on medical life writing; practitioner health; medical spaces and senses; and early 20th century surgery.

Agnes Arnold-Forster is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the Wellcome Trust Investigator Award, Surgery & Emotion, and is based at the University of Roehampton. Her work explores how people working in the hospital felt about their jobs and their institutions; how those feelings altered across cultural, political, organisational, and technological change; how people related to one another at work (including those members of the hospital workforce left out of traditional histories of healthcare such as laundry workers, receptionists, and laboratory technicians); and how the emotional landscape of the hospital has been represented in popular culture. 

Harriet Barratt has a background in arts management, policy communications and bid-writing. She has an AHRC-funded PhD from the University of Sussex on the role and representation of medical objects in literature, psychoanalysis and material culture (2020), and is interested in the lived experience of the material environments of healthcare. As a Senior Research Associate at York St. John University, she is leading a Research England-funded evaluation (2020-22) of the Converge mental health outreach programme, and is also a member of the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust’s Onward Arts Group.

Emma Cheatle is Senior Lecturer in Architecture at University of Sheffield. She is interested in Spatial Medical Humanities and researches historic and modern hospital buildings and settings through the politics of their use and occupation. She is particularly interested in marginalised users such as maintenance workers, and makes creative critical analyses through materialities such as smell, dust, light and air

Clare Hickman is a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Newcastle with an interest in the inter-relationship between landscape and health. Having published extensively on the history of healthcare gardens in Britain, she is now developing new strands of research on the role nature has played in the sensory history of hospitals and how a consideration of the multisensory nature of landscapes can aid inclusivity in both design and use.

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