Representing Pain:  Fragments and Narrative
A symposium at Lancaster University

Friday 17 August 2018, 9:00 am -5.30 pm

I am delighted to announce a Symposium to be held at Lancaster University on Friday 17 August, exploring the challenges pain poses to traditional narrative representation, and the way it may require rethinking narrativity or embracing unconventional or fragmentary narrative forms. 

The Symposium is part of the AHRC-funded research network Translating Chronic Pain, which is especially exercised by the way that conventional illness narrations (long form autobiography/memoir) don’t always lend themselves well to chronic pain experience.  The symposium will explore the broad debates around narrativity in medical humanities, the potential of short-form narration or unconventional forms of illness narration,  the positivity imperative in illness narration, challenges of chronic pain representation, and the way ‘entanglements’ with fields such as disability studies and trauma theory may enrich critical medical humanities approaches to these questions.  

The network brings together academics, pain charities and people living with chronic pain, to explore how short-form creative writing may support people living with chronic pain, raise awareness, and enhance healthcare training.  Among other things, the network is exploring ‘flash’ illness writing, and we have produced a web-based public anthology of creative work in this vein at the project website. The call for creative work remains open.  (5-150 words) of prose, poetry, optionally alongside artwork  or comic/sequential art.  For details please see .   

Confirmed symposium speakers include: Dr Angela Woods (Durham), Dr Stella Bolaki (Kent),  Professor James Berger (Yale), Dr. Megan Crowley-Matoka (Northwestern), Professor Ann Jurecic (Rutgers), Professor Brendan Stone (Sheffield), Professor Alan Bleakley, and Professor Javier Moscoso (Research Professor of History and Philosophy of Science, Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales, Spain).

Accommodation and partial travel bursaries are also available for six postgraduate students or early career researchers.

For more information please visit the project website at or email