Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Chekhov recap

"Medicine is my lawful wife and literature my mistress; when I get tired of one, I spend the night with the other"

So said Anton Chekhov. Many thanks to all who came along and participated in last night’s fascinating discussion of ‘Anyuta’ and ‘A Doctor’s Visit’ – a wonderful way to start the term! A warm welcome to the new faces, too – we hope you’ll be able to join us again next time.

Daniel Friesner gave a fabulous introduction to Chekhov’s life and the two short stories, and by summarising a series of critical responses to the texts provided a great basis for the following wide-ranging discussion.

Particular points of interest that were raised, and possible themes to thread throughout the term's reading, included:

-the suitability of the short story genre for writings about medicine: stories are ranged in volumes of prose like patients in a waiting room; they also share the necessity of coming to understand character, history and ailments in a very limited time-span, and of achieving some sort of resolution.

-ideas of empathy and sympathy in the doctor-patient relationship - the detachment of the medical gaze contrasted with the necessity of sharing the patient's perspective. We also discussed how literature such as these stories are used in medical education in part to impart these qualities to students.

-the use of mythic structures and allusion in the stories: Psyche in ‘Anuyta’; ‘A Doctor’s Visit’ as a journey to the underworld; Liza’s conception of herself as a figure in a well-known contemporary poem.

-the narrative structure of illness itself.

See you next time for Kafka!

Friday, January 26, 2007

BSLS Birmingham

The programme for the BSLS conference in March is now up on the website: both myself and Katy as well as former SLRG member Liliane Campos will be speaking - we'd love to see you there!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Literary Genres of Science and Medicine

Dear All,

The 12th International Enlightenment Congress will be held in Montpelier this year from 8 to 15 July (http://www.congreslumieres2007.org/gb/index_gb.htm).

The deadline for panel proposals (in the form of a workshop or roundtable) is rapidly approaching. I am presently organising an English language panel on ‘Literary Genres of Science and Medicine’ and I am looking for one or two more papers. The session will address the literary form, content and/or circulation of printed or manuscript texts associated with the Enlightenment natural history (including chemistry) and/or medicine. Papers that address (1) note-taking skills, (2) the numeric or descriptive arrangement of data (including tablature or illustrations), (3) narrative structures relevant to patient histories or scientifically-related journeys, (4) editorial processes and/or (5) publication strategies are especially welcome. Inquiries and proposals (no more than 500 words) may be sent to me at m.d.eddy@durham.ac.uk. Proposals will need to arrive no later than 1 February 2007.

Yours Sincerely,

Dr Matthew D Eddy
Department of Philosophy, University of Durham, 50 Old Elvet, DH1 3HN, United
Kingdom. http://www.dur.ac.uk/m.d.eddy/

Monday, January 15, 2007

29th January

We will start the new year and the new term on Monday 29th January with our first short stories about doctors:

Anton Chekhov, "Anyuta" (1886) and "A Doctor's Visit" (1898)

Follow the links for online versions, or go to the Whipple Library and the Science and Literature Reading Group boxfile for paper copies.

I hope to see you at Darwin College at 7.30pm!