Health and Healing in Culture and Literature

deadline for submissions: 
November 1, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
International Başkent Conference: Health and Healing in Culture and Literature
contact email: 

International Başkent Conference:

“Health and Healing in Culture and Literature”

Başkent University, Ankara, Turkey

13-15 March 2019



The Department of American Culture and Literature at Başkent University is pleased to host the forthcoming international conference on “Health and Healing in Culture and Literature,” to be held between 13 and 15 March 2019 at the Bağlıca Campus as part of the festivities of the 25th anniversary of the foundation of Başkent University. Both topically and thematically, health and healing have been a recurrent concern in literary writings and cultural representations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson aphoristically stressed, “the first wealth is health.” He theorized that a perfect balance of one’s physical and spiritual selves was the essence of good health, noting that the love of nature had a healing and moderating effect: “The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other.” Similarly, Henry David Thoreau reiterated Emerson’s idea in a humorous and instructive way: “What is the pill which will keep us well, serene, contented? Not my or thy great-grandfather’s, but our great-grandmother Nature’s universal, vegetable, botanic medicines, by which she has kept herself young always.” Kurt Vonnegut saw the essence of good health in one’s love of humanity and one’s allegiance to human values when he stated: “We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane.”

As scholars in the humanities, we also play a role in addressing the maladies of the inner person. Through aesthetic experience, through the practice of narrative, poetic expression and artistic performance, we work toward the disclosure and examination of humane ideas. For example, Susana Onega and Jean-Michel Ganteau’s edited collection of essays, The Wounded Hero in Contemporary Fiction: A Paradoxical Quest (2018), addresses wounded characters in contemporary literary worksand their ways of coping with their health problems. Also, studies in popular culture such as Medicine’s Moving Picture: Medicine, Health, and Bodies in American Film and Television (2007) and Medical Visions: Producing the Patient through Film, Television, and Imagining Technologies (2013) offer rich representations of health, medicine, and the human body in American film and TV. Studies of the media, advertising and work within the social sciences can fortify and deepen our examination of these discourses on health. Such viewpoints may open a new horizon for the investigation of the ways health and healing are conceived in contemporary ylife. Our upcoming conference offers a forum for the consideration of healing practices from various cultural traditions as they are depicted in literary and cultural products, and on the broader discourses governing health and healing. We hope that intercultural, comparative and trans-disciplinary approaches will open important new aspects to our inquiry. 

As such, we invite submissions on a broad range of themes and sub-topics, including but not limited to:


  • Literature as therapy, literature as pharmakon, the arts as a means of healing

  • Creative writing by healers and medical practitioners

  • Health in popular culture, film studies, media studies, visual arts, and music

  • Holistic healing, body-mind-spirit, healing rituals, faith healing, root doctors, conjure women, medicine men and shamans, spiritual healing, yoga, meditation, seclusion

  • Healing the body politic: treating conditions caused by migration, environmental stressors, terrorism, radicalism, war, political oppression, abuse, public health and politics, coping mechanisms

  • Conceptions of the body and its healing capacity, allegory of human anatomy, body image: bulimia, anorexia, obesity, dysmorphophobia

  • Memoirs of illness and restoration

  • Healing power of nature, healing in nature

  • Self-help and self-healing

  • Communal healing

  • Sacred nature of mother- sister- daughterhood

  • Health and gender: the construction of femininity, masculinity

  • Eating and healing, food as medicine, nutrition, back to the land, homegrown, organic agriculture movements

  • Post-crisis rehabilitation through story-telling, healing physical trauma, healing spiritual trauma

  • Medicine as metaphor, allegories of healing, metaphorical healing


200-word abstracts for 20-minute individual papers are welcome, together with a short biographical note (written in the third person) including institutional affiliation, address, e-mail and telephone numbers.


Please send abstracts and the required information, by November 1, 2018, to both Dr. Jeffrey W. Howlett, and Dr. Gözde Kılıç,, Department of American Culture and Literature, Faculty of Science and Letters, Başkent University, Ankara, Turkey.