DepositWomen’s Ageing as Disease

In the medical humanities, there has been a growing interest in diagnosing disease in fictional characters, particularly with the idea that characters in Charles Dickens’s novels may be suffering from diseases recognised today. However, an area that deserves greater attention is the representation of women’s ageing as disease in Victorian literature and medical narratives. Even as Victorian doctors were trying to cure age-related illnesses, they continued to employ classical notions of unhealthy female ageing. For all his interest in medical matters, the novelist Charles Dickens wrote about old women in a similar vein. Using close reading to analyse Victorian gerontology alongside Charles Dickens’s novels Dombey and Son (1848) and Great Expectations (1861), this article examines narratives of female ageing as disease. It concludes by pointing to the ways that Victorian gerontology impacts on how we view women’s ageing as ‘diseased’ today.

DepositPlanning for an Innovative Partnership: the Medical Heritage Digital Collaborative

The Medical Heritage Digital Collaborative (MHDC) is a partnership of nine institutions striving to connect history of medicine collections in an open access digital environment. This distinguished group of institutions possesses a wealth of physicians’ papers, correspondence, institutional records, books, and images integral to understanding the history and social context of western medicine. These collections have been geographically and technologically isolated from one another, which has presented significant obstacles for researchers in the study of the medical humanities. Digitally linking collections across institutions will increase efficiency in discovery and expand access to under-utilized materials. The proposed planning project will build on the Medical Heritage Library, funded by The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, to create a partnership model for engaging scholars in a multi-institutional collaboration.

MemberBrandy Schillace

I am a medical humanist and historian as well as a literary scholar of the long eighteenth-century. I have worked as a tenure-track assistant professor, but am presently pursuing an Altac career. I received my PhD in English from Case Western Reserve University in 2010, and my research (from the dissertation to my present projects) investigates the boundaries between literature and medicine from a historical/materialist perspective. Recent works consider women’s education, neurological dysfunction and medical artifacts like the “birthing machine.” Similarly, my monograph, A Subject Dark and Intricate, explores the proliferation of neurological and reproductive sciences at the naissance of Gothic literature in the late 1700s (the “other” fin de siècle). I also serve as managing editor for Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, an international journal of cross-cultural health research. In the past five years, the journal has expanded to include illness narratives, cultural case studies and more—resulting in our present #1 ranking. In 2013, I will be guest editing the journal’s first medical humanities special section, Trauma, Disability and Embodied Discourse through Cross-cultural Narrative Modes.

MemberAndrew Godfrey-Meers

…Godfrey, A. 2018. Review: Anne Whitehead’s Medicine & Empathy in Contemporary British Literature: An Intervention in Medical Humanities. [Online]

Godfrey, A. 2018. “For your own good”: Health as moral value and political weapon. [Online]

Godfrey, A. 2018. The Limits of Empathy (Part Two: Empathetic Voyeurism, Selfishness, and Inaction). [Online]

Godfrey, A. 2018. The Limits of Empathy (Part One: Selective Empathy). [Online]

Godfrey, A. 2018. On the front line: A review of Rachel Clarke’s ‘Your Life in My Hands’ & Adam Kay’s ‘This is Going to Hurt’. [Online}

Godfrey, A. 2017. My Graphic Medicine Journey (Part One-Three). [Online}

Available at: https://medicalhealthhuma…

Andrew Godfrey-Meers is a PhD researcher in English and Comic Studies at the University of Dundee, and was the principal organiser of the 7th International Comics & Medicine conference (theme Stages & Pages) in Dundee in 2016. His research focuses on representations of disability, illness, and medical treatment in the interdisciplinary field and genre of Graphic Medicine. Using ritual, myth, and genre as theoretical tools he explores the tension between transformative and restrictive models in works of Graphic Medicine as well as in the field itself. He has previously self-published comics about his experiences with the chronic illness Cystic Fibrosis, as well as collaborative comics on mental health with Emma Jeramie, under the name Sicker Than Thou. His future research interests include but are not limited to:

  • Examining the limitations of empathy in Graphic Medicine and the Medical Humanities
  • Expanding on research on Graphic Medicine as a field and genre (its discursive and social functions, positioning, and exclusions, etc.)
  • Exploring the potential links between Graphic Medicine, disability, welfare, and healthcare activism (particularly regarding the differences between the UK and US Systems, increasing privatization in the NHS, and coercive healthism and technology)

Currently looking for postdoctoral research positions.

MemberJesse Miller

I am a Postdoctoral Fellow of Literature and Medical Humanities in the UC Santa Barbara Department of English, as well as a faculty member in the Bard College Language and Thinking program. My teaching and research explore topics related to literary modernism, cultural approaches to health, illness, and disability, experiential learning in professional writing pedagogy, and the role of writing and the arts in precipitating social change. My current book project “The Birth of the Literary Clinic: Modernism, Bibliotherapy, and the Aesthetics of Health, 1916-1944” excavates a link between the work of American modernist writers such as Kenneth Burke, Djuna Barnes, and Jean Toomer, and early twentieth-century efforts to promote the practice of therapeutic reading. I have studied the contemporary application of this research on the history of reading for mental health as a 2015-2016 Humanities New York Public Humanities Fellow. I am also interested in contemporary small press literary culture and am Managing Reviews Editor for Full Stop Magazine (, a web publication aimed at engaging with contemporary literature and publishing with a focus on debuts, small press publications, and works in translation.