A Picture of Health: Representations and Imaginings of Wellbeing and Illness; London, 7 November 2014; CFP deadline 1 August

full name / name of organization: 
Association of Art Historians Student Members / Birkbeck / Wellcome
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What is the relationship between art and health, and how has it varied across different historical periods and disciplines?

Paintings, drawings and sculptures have long played a significant role in the care and portrayal of the sick, from the sixteenth-century Isenheim altarpiece, painted for a monastery that nursed plague sufferers and patients with skin diseases, to contemporary art and medical research collaborations, outreach workshops and the art collections of modern-day hospitals. Artists themselves have engaged with medicine in a number of different ways, ranging from technical illustration to expressive portrayals of the subjective experience of illness, while historical psycho-biographical readings of art and modern-day biopics have perpetuated the association between mental illness and 'creative genius'.

In recent years Medical Humanities has emerged as an important new area of interdisciplinary study. Scholars have increasingly focused on images and art objects in their enquiries into the culture of medicine. What distinctive methodologies can the practice of art history offer this new field? What different conceptual models might be appropriate for considering the function and purpose of art in relation to issues of illness and health? How can art help us to negotiate our own sense of wellbeing, and what is the mediating role of the artist in this process? What can art tell us about historical relationships between doctors and patients, changing conceptions of the human body, or the representation of illness as distinct from 'good' health?

We welcome contributions from scholars working with visual materials in a wide range of disciplines including but not limited to art history, fine arts, film and visual culture, art therapy, medicine and literary or cultural studies. Topics might address notions of art and health across all periods and contexts, at both 'micro' and 'macro' levels, from specific case studies about particular artists, works or medical collaborations, to broader historiographical investigations.

Conference to take place 7 November 2014 at the Wellcome Trust, London. Confirmed Keynotes include Suzannah Biernoff (History of Art, Birkbeck), and Christine Borland (BALTIC Professor, Northumberland University).

Papers should be 20 minutes in length. Abstracts of 250 words and a brief biography indicating your institutional affiliation should be submitted as a single Word.doc by email to AAHNV2014@gmail.com by 1 August 2014. All speakers must be members of the AAH.

More information: http://www.aah.org.uk/events/new-voices-conferences