CFP Chronicity and Crisis: Time in the Medical Humanities

CFP: International Medical Humanities Conference

Chronicity and Crisis: Time in the Medical Humanities

The MSU Medical Humanities Program and ‘Waiting Times’ (a Wellcome Trust funded research project based at the University of Exeter and Birkbeck, University of London, UK) are pleased to announce an international conference on the theme of “Chronicity and Crisis” to be held at Montclair State University, New Jersey, on October 25-26, 2019. The conference organizers welcome submissions of abstracts to be sent to Dr. Jefferson Gatrall by April 1, 2019. (

Keynote Speakers:

Dr. Mark Solms. Chair, Neuropsychology, University of Cape Town & Groote Schuur Hospital

Title: “A Man Who Got Lost in Time: Feeling and Uncertainty in the Face of Oblivion”

Dr. Rishi Goyal. Director, Medicine, Literature and Society Program, Columbia University

Title: “Crisis, Catastrophe and Emergency: Disentangling Temporal Patterns of Care and Response”

The conference will bring together scholars from the humanities and social sciences as well as the psychosocial disciplines, health studies, and biomedicine to examine how the concepts of chronicity and crisis inform historical and contemporary understandings of health, illness and wellbeing. “Chronicity and Crisis” aims to open up the relationship between the long term and the urgent in order to address a range of questions in individual, social and global health. 

The temporal aligning of care and illness — the potentially long time-frames of care as juxtaposed to the urgency of acute interventions — factors into the success of diverse medical treatments.  From the prioritization of wait times in emergency centers to approvals by insurance companies and the monitoring of chronic physical and mental illnesses, care is determined by more than the treatment at hand.  Likewise, adverse public health outcomes arise from social inequities and inequalities of long historical duration, including the chronic legacies of colonial violence, the inaccessibility of public spaces for the less abled, the health risks of environmental neglect, or gender imbalances in the subjects of medical research. The narrative markers of onset, frequency, and remission inform how the experiences of sudden and chronic illnesses are communicated, from self-reporting and clinical records to medical fiction, biography, and memoir. 

The conference will structure and develop conversations between those with interests in general practice, psychotherapy, disability studies, palliative care, end-of-life care, narrative medicine, public health, medical anthropology, medical history, literature and medicine and body studies, and researchers addressing questions of care and temporality within fields such as philosophy, sociology, psychology, critical and cultural studies, gender studies and Black studies.

Subjects that may be explored include, but are not limited to, the following:

waiting time 

watchful waiting

access and discrimination

chronic legacies of race and colonialism

trauma and urgency

slow violence and human health

suspense and disease in mass media


end of life

representations of chronic illnesses in art, literature, and film

narrative time in medical fiction and nonfiction

theories of crisis and chronicity 

theories of rupture and endurance

the temporalities of psychic life

queer time

Organizing committee

Lisa Baraitser  (

Jefferson Gatrall  (

Lois Oppenheim  (

Laura Salisbury  (

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