The role of the doctor, surgeon, physician, or apothecary has been instrumental throughout western cultural history as a determining and defining force of health and well-being, and thus of idealised, often unquestioned norms. While medicine itself is much more than the biological, the privileging of the scientific often means that the medical becomes an esoteric, isolated realm, potentially denying individual humans (and, by extension, broader society) access to their own identity, as well as the agency to define that identity for themselves.
Much of the research that has been done within medical humanities focuses on what medical humanities is, what its uses are, how or if it should be implemented, and what research methodologies are appropriate. In terms of the humanities aspect, the research has proceeded logically into medical education, ethics, psycho-social sciences, the history of medicine, medicine in literature, and narrativity. In response to the meaningful work being done to promote medical humanities within medical training programs, we suggest that medical humanities has a much broader application than making better doctors. Indeed, what we seek to do through this volume is to open up a conversation that helps society to understand how the medical has historically defined us: what it means to be human.
This project will examine the role of humanities in helping us to understand where medicine and medical practice comes from in historical and cultural contexts, while critiquing the primacy of medical science within those debates—which is, arguably, a relatively recent development in intellectual history. It is important to recognise the ways in which other disciplines have historically informed and continue to shape medical practice and understanding, even if this shaping occurs unconsciously.
Chapter proposals from any discipline will be considered for this interdisciplinary study. 500-word abstracts and a one-page CV should be sent to Dr Lesa Scholl (Emmanuel College within the University of Queensland) by December 16, 2016. Decisions on contributions will be made by mid-January, 2017.