Explorations in the Medical Humanities

House for King and Slave: Patients and Medical Practice in the Medieval Islamic Hospital

Monday, February 26, 2018  6:00pm - 7:30pm The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room


Free and open to the public

No registration necessary

First come, first seated


Lan Li

Arden Hegele

Carmel Raz

Heidi Hausse

As a set of disciplines, the humanities face the challenge of how to write about embodied experiences that resist easy verbal categorization such as illness, pain, and healing. The recent emergence of interdisciplinary frameworks such as narrative medicine has offered a set of methodological approaches to address these challenges. Yet conceptualizing a field of medical humanities also offers a broader umbrella under which to study the influence of medico-scientific ideas and practices on society.  Whether by incorporating material culture such as medical artefacts, performing symptomatic readings of poems and novels, or excavating the implicit medical assumptions underlying auditory cultures, the approaches that emerge from a historiographical or interpretive framework are different from those coming from the physician’s black bag.

This lecture series will explore the enigma of how what we write relates back to the experience of bodies in different stages of health and disease. Our speakers will explore how the medical humanities build on and revise earlier notions of the “medical arts.” At stake are the problems of representation and the interpretation of cultural products from the past and present through medical models.


  • Speaker

    Ahmed Ragab

    Richard T. Watson Associate Professor of Science and Religion

    Harvard Divinity School

  • Discussant

    Marwa Elshakry

    Associate Professor of History

    Columbia University


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