Sensing Through Description: A Keynote Lecture from Professor Heather Love

April 25, 2024

Date and time

Thursday, June 20 · 4:15 – 5:30pm GMT+1


Tom Percival AnnexeBrooks House Parsons Field Durham DH1 3JP

In this paper, Professor Heather Love addresses the question of empathy in medical training, considering various methods for describing and analyzing the medical students’ quality of attention. The difficulty of distinguishing between ‘rote’ or formal expressions of empathy from authentic feeling provides a challenge to researchers. She will consider the way qualitative researchers in medical anthropology and related fields have addressed this question, and how it has been addressed in the field of narrative medicine. Finally, She will compare these modes of description to the paradoxical presentation of empapthy in Leslie Jamison’s essay, ‘The Empathy Exams‘. While ‘The Empathy Exams’ captures the uneven texture and double-binds of performing empathy better than discursive forms, this presentation will conclude by considering the affordances and drawbacks of literature in the context of medical pedagogy.

About the speaker:

Heather Love is the author of Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History and Underdogs: Social Deviance and Queer Theory. She is the editor of a special issue of GLQ on Gayle Rubin (Rethinking Sex) and the co-editor (with Stephen Best and Sharon Marcus) of a special issue of Representations (Description Across Disciplines). In 2023, she published Literary Studies and Human Flourishing, co-edited with James F. English. Love has written on topics including comparative social stigma, compulsory happiness, transgender fiction, spinster aesthetics, and reading methods in literary studies. She is currently working on a new project (“To Be Real”, supported by the Guggenheim Foundation), concerning the uses of the personal in queer writing.

This keynote lecture follows the ‘Sensing throgh Description’ symposium. Register here to attend just the keynote.

To register for the entire in-person symposium, head over to this Eventbrite page.

This hybrid event is brought to you by the Affective Experience Lab, which is led by Dr Fraser Riddell and Professor Corinne Saunders in the Discovery Research Platform.

This event is free to attend.

Zoom details will be circulated closer to the event.

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