Communication and Construction of Monstrous Embodiment
June 15-16, 2012

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Thank you and apologies

Hello all - first off we would like to apologise for the silence post-conference. It especially seems to jar with the fact that we have been very vocal about our desire to continue the blog and the online community inspired by this conference after the event itself.

However, the best laid plans and all that: graduation ceremonies, other commitments, and (best of all) holidays have kept all three conference organisers hopping over the last month, and we have not even had an opportunity to properly compose our own thoughts about the conference itself. However, the impressions it left were unforgettable.

Which leads to the second point: thank you. We want to thank our fabulous conference keynote speakers - Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Margrit Shildrick, and Peter Hutchings - for their outstanding contributions. If you were unable to attend, we regret that we can only give a hazy impression of the inspiring dialogue that took place between Rosemarie and Margrit on Day 1 of the conference, through both their keynotes and the questions that followed, which was regarded by many participants as one of the highlights of the day. However, we are incredibly fortunate that Jeffrey has posted a version of the paper which grew from his paper on zombie aesthetics, Grey (A Zombie Ecology) on his website In The Middle (he also wrote some lovely comments about the conference and his time in Edinburgh here). We highly recommend that you check it out.

Finally, we would like to thank all of our truly fantastic participants, those who gave papers and those who didn't, who were both equally a part of the conversation that took place throughout both days. You made your way from Europe, North America, andAustralia, to face weather which was, even for Edinburgh, pretty atrocious. Despite jet-lagged and waterlogged brains you delivered insightful papers and asked difficult questions and inspired discussion that was challenging, intense, and brilliant, and for that we cannot thank you enough. If you will be so patient as to accept our belated thoughts and thanks, and to wait just a little bit longer for information about the next stage of the Sensualising Deformity experience, we look forward to continuing that generous conversation and we hope that you do, too.

That reminds me - if you attended the conference and have written a post on your blog or website (or would like to) with reflections on the event, keynotes, panels, or general discussion, we would love to be able to share that with everyone! I know some people already have posted links on the Facebook group, and we will be setting up links on the blog as well to those posts, but if there are more please do let us know and we'll include them.

Thank you all again,
Ally, Maja, and Karin

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Some Conference Particulars

As the conference is less than a week away, we just wanted to post a few points for those blog readers who may be planning to attend but who have not yet registered. You will be able to register in person on 15 June; however, we will not have equipment for card payments. This means that you will need to ensure you have the registration fee in cash with you. There are cash points nearby, if you need them.

If you have any specific dietary requirements, we advise you to register as soon as possible in advance. Catering is all vegetarian with vegan options, but if you have any allergies (including gluten intolerance) and you do not register in advance, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to meet your requirements (note: all dietary needs outlined by those who have already registered have been taken into account).

A reminder again that due to the University's Open Day on 15 June, we will have a different venue each day of the conference. On Friday 15 June we will be located at the Old College on South Bridge, with registration to be found in the atrium outside of Lecture Theatre 175, and on Saturday 16 June we will move to the nearby 7 Bristo Square; registration will be set up in the main lobby for those who have arranged for a one-day booking on that day. A map with both venues marked has been provided on our Fees and Information page, which also lists some nearby restaurants, pubs, and places of interest.

Finally, we hope that as many of our blog readers are able to come as possible, since we would very much like to meet all of you, and we cannot express how excited we are to see so many of you within the week!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Jessica Harrison: Carving, cutting, breaking, shaping, tracing, folding, skinning.

Jessica Harrison's artwork has been the object of adoration for at least one of the conference organisers for going on two years now, ever since first laying eyes on 'Broken', a series of small ceramic figurines that have been, in Harrison's words, 'modified, revealed and reshaped to show a soft and fleshy interior underneath the brittle and fragile skin.' But the grotesque beauty of Sophia, Emily, or Caroline is just one example of Harrison's sensuous engagement with the monstrosity of 'the body in space, the space within the body and the space in-between the two.'
Caroline, 2010;

Harrison describes her work as an attempt to 'examine how we can go beyond the traditional idea of the interior and exterior with some skin in-between, to explore a complex chiasm of surfaces and sensations that relate to and transgress one another. Rather than being a stable entity, the body emerges as one that is in constant flux, shifting, stretching, snapping, softening.' This exploration is is embodied in the titles bestowed upon her different series; in addition to 'Broken', Harrison lists 'Holding', 'Slicing', 'Splitting', and 'Looking' amongst her collections. The series 'Holding' is a particularly interesting exploration of sensuality and materiality of objects; Harrison explains on her Facebook page that 'the objects explore the shape of the felt, rather than the visual body.' Constructing intricate miniatures of household furniture based on casts of her own hands, the images connect and elide the objects with the body that gives them form.

Examples of each collection can be found on Harrison's website, where prints of the different series can be ordered; more extensive albums are available on her Facebook page. Images of Harrison's work is featured in the Spring, 2012 edition of Creative Quarterly alongside an interview, and she has upcoming exhibitions in London, Leicester, and Malta; if you are nearby, they would be well worth a visit.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson Seminar in Edinburgh

Way back in April (how the time has flown!) we posted about the fantastic Bodies in Movement seminar series taking place here in Edinburgh this spring/summer. We can now confirm that the first of those three seminars, featuring a talk by Scott Wilson and subsequent discussion, was truly brilliant. We would also like to draw your attention to the second seminar in the series, which is taking place on 14 June. This seminar will feature our own keynote speaker, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, delivering a paper and leading discussion on 'Disability, Gender, Bodies.'

The seminar series comprises a full afternoon of academic conversation, which offers the opportunity for an intensity of discussion that is not typically realised at conferences or symposia. With three respondents offering unique perspectives on the keynote paper, and a good span of time allotted for questions, we can highly recommend the seminar series to anyone local to the Edinburgh area or who may be flying in a day or two in advance of the conference.

Registration is free, but you must book in advance. For details or to register, visit the Bodies in Movement website. We hope to see some of you there!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Conference Venue Update

As the conference is rapidly approaching, we wanted to ensure that all delegates and potential delegates know where to find us on both days. Due to a conflict with the University of Edinburgh's Open Day, the conference will be in a different venue on each day. On Friday, 15 June, we will be in the University's historic Old College building, and on Saturday, 16 June, we will be in the nearby 7 Bristo Square on the main campus. The conference programme will be updated shortly with room allocations.

Below, we have created a map of both locations (you can see how close they are), and we have added a few nearby pubs and places of interest should you have some free time while you are in Edinburgh. You can click on the map to enlarge it and zoom in on different areas of the city.

View Sensualising Deformity Conference Map in a larger map

Friday, 18 May 2012

Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh Online Archive Launch

With a little less than a month to go before the conference, we sadly have to admit that blog posts have slipped, and for that we are sorry! Just a reminder that we are open to guest posts or suggestions so long as it related to the theme of the conference; you can reach us by e-mail, Twitter, or Facebook, and we'd love to hear from you.

Today, however, we'd like to share with you the exciting launch of a fantastic new resource from our very own Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh: The Sibbald Library's Online Archive. The result of a 2-year Wellcome Trust grant, the archive is in the process of cataloguing the RCPE's deposited collections to provide greater access to the public. Already, 8,000 items have been catalogued in the archive, and the project is set to continue until February 2013. The archive boasts 189 collections online, each with its own detailed collection level description and hierarchical description of all records.

Collections include sources from:

  • Joseph Black
  • William Cullen
  • Andrew Duncan
  • Edinburgh General Lying-In Hospital
  • Edinburgh Obstetrical Society
  • Francis Home
  • James Gregory
  • John Gregory
  • James Hamilton
  • John Hope
  • William Hunter
  • Alexander Monro
  • Alexander Morison
  • John Playfair
  • John Pringle
  • John Rutherford
  • Andrew St Clair
  • Scottish Medical Service Emergency Committee
  • Alexander Russell Simpson
  • James Young Simpson
  • Robert Whytt
  • Thomas Young
It should be pointed out that the collections are arranged according to creator rather than subject matter, although you can search according to date, person, place, subject, format, category, title, or even reference number (should you know it). Only a year in to the project and already the result looks to be a significant online resource for those interested in the history of medicine and the medical humanities; I'm sure that you, like us, look forward to seeing the archive in its completion in 2013!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Keynote Lectures: Titles Announced

Dear All, we are thrilled to announce our brilliant keynote lecture titles! The lectures will be followed by short response papers and an engaging discussion!
The titles are as follows:

Margrit Shildrick, “On Longing for the Monstrous: Some Precautionary Observations”
with a response by Karin Sellberg
Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, “Seeing the Unusual: Thoughts on the Ethics of Showing Disability”
with a response by Ally Crockford
Peter Hutchings, “Monstering the 1970s: Deviation, Mutilation and Negotiation in American Horror
with a response by Maja Milatovic
Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, “Zombie Aesthetics”
with a response by Kamillea Aghtan

The updated schedule can be viewed here!
Those of you who are yet to register - follow this link for registration and arrival details!

Finally, it goes without saying that we are very excited for the upcoming events and are looking forward to welcoming all of you to Edinburgh - less than two months left!