CHHS Research Seminar: Dr Ian James Kidd

On the 18th of June Dr Ian James Kidd presented a talk entitled ‘Pathophobia, Illness and Vices’.

Kidd noted that narrative accounts of the lived experience of somatic illness consistently describe a whole range of morally objectionable forms of treatment – coldness, rudeness, insensitive comments, intrusive questions, and acts of cruelty, neglect, and coldheartedness. All of these are instances of what he calls ‘pathophobia’, the oppressive mistreatment of somatically ill persons. After distinguishing this concept from sanism and ableism, he argued that the moral wrongs of pathophobia are best analysed using a framework of vice ethics. To that end he described five clusters of pathophobic vices and failing and ended with some ameliorative proposals.

Contact: Dr Ian James Kidd – 

‘Graphic Medicine’ – Ian Williams

Ian Williams is a comics artist, doctor and writer, now living in Brighton.

The website he began in 2007,, gave a name to what would become a transatlantic, and perhaps global movement, Graphic Medicine. It remains the best place from which to start exploring that world.

His own contributions — creative, academic, and organisational — to the movement have been great. Some of his graphic novels, strips, academic chapters, edited books, and conferences are listed below.

His most recent publication — Jan 2019 — is The Lady Doctor. (New York Times: ‘offers the engrossing perspective of a hard-working and fallible physician. The Lady Doctor… illuminates something profound.’ The Lancet: ‘It’s very funny and also often very sad.’ Herald Scotland: ‘It’s snorting-tea-out-your-nose-while-you’re-reading-it funny.’)

In this talk he introduced Graphic Medicine in the round, and talked about the roles it could play in the lives of doctors, nursing staff, carers and patients (or patients, carers, nursing staff and doctors). Plenty of time was left for a Q&A session at the end, and attendees were encouraged to submit questions by email before the event.

Ian is also responsible for creating a new Bristol mural in the Stokes Croft area of the city, which is providing an accessible and inclusive way of representing and communicating issues surrounding healthcare. The wall art was commissioned by the Centre for Health, Humanities and Science at the University of Bristol, with the support of the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute. For full details of this fantastic initiative click here.

Ian Williams can be found on twitter as @TheBadDr and @GraphicMedicine.


CHHS Public Debate with Profs. James Ladyman, Jane Macnaughton and Martin Willis

The CHHS public debate, ‘Science, Humanities and Health: Collaboration across Disciplines and Approaches’ took place on 10/06/19.

The debate brought together three renowned scholars, who have worked collaboratively across humanities and science disciplines, to discuss their research. The topics debated included; what are the barriers to such collaborations and can they be overcome? How can a shared language be created? Are the disciplinary differences always a hindrance? Professors Macnaughton, Willis and Ladyman discussed whether and how is it possible to overcome disciplinary barriers and methodological differences and work fruitfully across humanities and the sciences.

Chair: Dr Julian Baggini

Speakers: Professor Jane Macnaughton (Durham), Professor James Ladyman (Bristol) and Professor Martin Willis (Cardiff)

Regional Networking Event

The Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health (University of Exeter), the Centre for Health, Humanities and Science (University of Bristol) in association with the Regional Medical Humanities network hosted a one-day networking event on ‘Research that impacts on public policy (medical humanities)’.

At a time when expertise is under increasing assault, we aimed to establish meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships between researchers, practitioners and policymakers, and opportunities for our research to have lasting, valuable impact on policy formation were explored.

Delegates’ time was spent looking at case studies, undertaking workshop activities and roundtable discussions, and sharing ideas for and experiences of influencing public policy through research.

Laura Salisbury, PI of the Wellcome-funded Waiting Times project based at the centre, and Victoria Bates (Centre for Health, Humanities and Science, University of Bristol) introduced the day and the key themes, and there were case study presentations by:

Havi Carel, Life of Breath
Lorraine Hansford, DeStress Project
Jen Groveand Rebecca Langlands, Sex & History Project
Kate Massey-Chase(Exeter)
Katie Beswick(Exeter)
Maria Vaccarella(Bristol)
Fred Cooper (Exeter)
Arthur Rose (Bristol)

Our keynote presentation was an interactive session exploring the innovative, publicly engaged work of the PARC Project, with Nik Brown and Chrissy Buse.

Travel bursaries were made available for postgraduate researchers.

Prof. Gareth Williams in conversation with Sir Mark Walport, FRS

On May 22nd we were joined by Professor Gareth Williams, who discussed his new book ‘Unravelling the Double Helix: the Lost Heroes of DNA’ with Sir Mark Walport, FRS.

DNA. The double helix; the blueprint of life; and, during the early 1950s, a baffling enigma that could win a Nobel Prize.

Everyone knows that James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the double helix. In fact, they clicked into place the last piece of a huge jigsaw puzzle that other researchers had assembled over decades.

In this talk, drawing on material from his book, Professor Gareth Williams told the story of that discovery in the round, highlighting some of its lost heroes, from those who first fought to prove that DNA was the stuff of genes, to later researchers like Maurice Wilkins (the ‘Third Man of DNA’) and Rosalind Franklin, famously demonised by Watson.

Discussing and unpacking this story with him was Sir Mark Walport, FRS, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation, and former Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government (2013–17) and Director of the Wellcome Trust (2003—13).

About the book: ‘This is a FANTASTIC book – the deep story of the discovery of DNA, starting in 1868, with a German doctor finding a new molecule contained in the nuclei of white blood cells… 5 chapters in, and this is already clamouring to be one of my fave science/history books of 2019′ — Professor Alice Roberts, Professor of Public Engagement in Science at University of Birmingham. ‘Truly Superb’, Matt Ridley, The Times.

CHHS Research Seminar: Dr Anna Luise Kirkengen

On 13th May the CHHS was joined by Dr Anna Luise Kirkengen who presented a talk on the lived experience of violation during childhood and adolescence, reported by two women, as the vantage point for exploring the relationship between their experience and their health. The violation histories of these women, as related by the persons, was juxtaposed to their sickness histories, as documented in their medical records. This approach allowed for a comparison between biomedical and biographical accounts of serious disease development.

Kirkengen argued that when applying a framework of the phenomenological notion of the lived body, including the details of embodied integrity violation, on the biomedical presentation and documentation of the diseased body, a striking discrepancy becomes apparent. This particular kind of “gap”, not primarily in terms of valid knowledge but in terms of appropriate understanding, represents a source for medical wrongdoing, eventually resulting in an involuntary yet salient contribution to chronification and disability. Such a result calls for integrating a phenomenological understanding and terminology with the biomedical to render the lived body comprehensible for health professionals.


Contact: Dr Anna Luise Kirkengen –


CHHS + History Department Research Seminar: Professor Brian Ward

In April the Centre for Health,  Humanities and Science hosted a joint research seminar with the History Department at the University of Bristol. We were joined by Professor Brian Ward who spoke on ‘Sex, Drugs and Country Music: Loretta Lynn and the Health Environment in Mid-20th Century Kentucky’.

Born in Kentucky in 1932, Loretta Lynn is one of post-World War Two country music’s biggest female stars, boasting a slew of hit records and awards, and three best-selling autobiographies, one of which (Coal Miner’s Daughter) spawned a successful, Oscar-winning feature film. Although critics have long applauded Lynn for her realistic depictions of female rural working-class life, few have paid attention to how much her art and life-story have to tell us about the changing health environment in rural Kentucky in the mid-to-late 20th Century.

Ward’s talk explored how Lynn’s personal experience of many of the most pressing health concerns in her home state, including ‘black lung’ (coal workers’ pneumoconiosis), TB, congenital colour blindness, stroke, and mental illness, informed her songs and life-writings. In particular, the talk focused on how her songs and life-writings provide intimate, sometimes unusually candid, personal insights into issues surrounding women’s reproductive health, sex education and the domestic consequences of alcoholism, and maps them against important changes in health care policies and practices, and the development of medical knowledge, in Kentucky and the broader US during the mid-20th Century.


Contact: Brian Ward