Laughter and Medicine

Mon 4 - Tue 5 Nov 2024, 08:30 - 17:45

Baby changing facilities
Wheelchair accessible venue

For more information or any queries, please email [email protected].

Manon, Laughing Gas, 2019, installation, Kunsthaus Zürich, photographer: Franca Candrian, 2022.
Edgbaston Park Hotel & Conference Centre, 53 Edgbaston Park Road, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2RS
£20-30 per day

British Academy/Wellcome Trust Conferences bring together scholars and specialists from around the world to explore themes related to health and wellbeing.

Connecting knowledge across the disciplines, this conference will put practicing doctors in direct dialogue with researchers in the humanities – especially scholars of literature, cinema and cultural history. Together, they will seek to understand the social, diagnostic, therapeutic and physiological implications of laughter, inside and outside the clinic. Laughter is not always the 'best medicine', nor is it linked only to comedy and enjoyment. 'Healing laughter' differs markedly from pathological laughter, hysterical laughter, forced or bitter laughter, laughter aimed at mitigating awkwardness in unsuccessful communication, laughter intended to deceive, or laughter signifying fear, discomfort or aggression. Irony and other double-coded signifiers that abound in comic and parodic representations of medical practitioners and their patients often reveal medicine’s paradoxical place in various cultural imaginaries and in individual and collective experience.

This conference will study the diverse forms of laughter occurring around medicine in particular eras and cultural environments alongside comparative analysis of patterns and problematics over the long history of Western medicine and its representations.

Conference convenors:

  • Dr Sabena Yasmin Jameel, University of Birmingham Medical School
  • Professor Peter I Barta, University of Surrey / Texas Tech University
  • Dr Lucas Wood, Texas Tech University

Speakers across the two-day conference include:

  • Noga Arikha, Warburg Institute / École Normale Supérieure
  • Vincent Barras, Université de Lausanne
  • Günter Burg, Universität Zürich
  • Leonardo Costantini, University of Bristol
  • Laura Cowley, Birkbeck, University of London
  • Jody Enders, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Stephen Fay, University of Surrey
  • Indira Ghose, Université de Fribourg
  • David H. J. Larmour, Texas Tech University
  • Cathérine Hug, Kunsthaus Zürich
  • Mollie Huxley, University of Birmingham
  • Raphael Kohn, University of Birmingham Medical School
  • Saul Konviser, Montagu Dental, London
  • Róisín McCallion, UK Medical Schools Council, London
  • Ivan Nenchev, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin
  • Ute Oswald, University of Warwick
  • Danielle Petherbridge, University College Dublin
  • Ilija Rašović, University of Birmingham
  • Christine Slobogin, Johns Hopkins University
  • Katie Snow, University of Exeter
  • Diana Spencer, University of Birmingham
  • Florence Vinit, Université du Québec à Montréal
  • Rebecca Whiteley, University of Birmingham
  • Anna C. Whittaker, University of Stirling
  • Rose Whyman, University of Birmingham
  • Benjamin Wilck, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Gilles de Wildt, University of Birmingham Medical School

Conference ticket prices:

  • £30 a day full price (£60 for both days)
  • £20 a day concession price (£40 for both days)

Tickets for this conference will be available closer to the event.

If you have any questions about this event please refer to our events FAQs or email [email protected]

Image: Manon, Laughing Gas, 2019, installation, Kunsthaus Zürich, photographer: Franca Candrian, 2022.

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