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CFP: Narratives of Disease in Literature and Culture

May 30




is happy to announce


Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad and of the English Department

October 26-27, 2024

The conference will be held ONLINE and is FREE OF CHARGE

Conference topic:


Galen believed that the best physician is also a philosopher. The intersection between humanities and medical sciences is thus a long recognized one. While the unprecedented speed of medical discoveries in the recent decades and the ever narrowing specializations of medical professionals have the potential to lose sight of the person behind the disease, these trends have been countered by a growing awareness of the necessity of approaching disease and health in an integrative fashion and including insights from non-medical disciplines, reflected in the broader field of medical humanities. Non-clinical perspectives are of particular importance in the context of diseases with limited treatment options, such as dementia. As Professor Arthur Frank reminds us, treatment does not necessarily equal care, and cure is quite different from healing.

At the same time, matters of disease and human health extend well beyond the confines of medicine. Disease and illness are not only medical, but also cultural and social phenomena, loaded with non-medical meanings and associations. Illness, Susan Sontag famously asserts, is a metaphor. As such, it produces cultural meanings that have the power to shape the attitudes, perceptions and practices in medical and non-medical settings alike. This comes into play even more prominently at the cross-section of illness and disease with disadvantaged or non-normative subjectivities and embodiments, and in contexts of discrimination and violence. Matters of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, (dis)ability all shape broader cultural, social and medical perceptions of disease and health.

The aim of the conference is therefore to look at the complex relationships between literature and culture on the one hand, and medicine, disease and illness on the other. It is our hope that we will create a forum for public discussion of these issues and promote more nuanced, in-depth understanding of figurations and conceptualizations of disease within the matrix of cultural and social forces and power relations, as well as their impact on lived experiences of disease, dimensions of subjectivity and agency, and a personal sense of identity and well-being.

Possible topics of interest include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Representations of disease and health in literature and culture (fiction, theatre, poetry, graphic novel, film, TV)
  • Metaphors of disease, illness as a metaphor
  • Disease and the Other, disease and the abject, disease and the monstrous
  • Social and cultural constructions of disease and health, disease, biopolitics and bioethics
  • Disease and cultural (in)visibility
  • Narratives of disability, crips and supercrips
  • Deviance, transgression and pathology, cultural and social pathologies
  • Culture, technology and disease
  • Intersectional approaches to disease and health disparity in literature and culture
  • Disease and gender
  • Disease and old age, narratives of ageing
  • Neuronormativity and neurodiversity in literature and culture
  • The neuroscientific turn in fiction, the neuronovel
  • Brain health and brain disease in literature and culture
  • Disease and embodiment, the sick body, bodies in pain
  • Death, loss, grief and bereavement in literature and culture
  • Illness narratives and memoirs, autopatographies, case histories, caregiver narratives
  • Doctors, medicine men, healers and witches, quacks and charlatans, the doctor as detective
  • Medical mysteries in literature and culture, epistemologies of illness and health
  • Cults of health, fitness and beauty, beautiful monsters and monstrous beauty
  • Pandemics, contagions and outbreaks


Keynote address: Dr Karin Sellberg (University of Queensland, Australia)


Conference Chairs: Dr Nataša Milićević (University of Novi Sad, Serbia) & Dr Viktorija Krombholc (University of Novi Sad, Serbia)

Organising Committee:

Dr Ivana Đurić-Paunović (University of Novi Sad, Serbia)

Dr Arijana Luburić-Cvijanović (University of Novi Sad, Serbia), Chief Coordinator

Dr Bojana Vujin (University of Novi Sad, Serbia)

Dr Viktorija Krombholc (University of Novi Sad, Serbia)

Dr Slađana Stamenković (University of Novi Sad, Serbia)

Programme Committee:

Dr Roberta Maierhofer (University of Graz, Austria)

Dr Réka Cristian (University of Szeged, Hungary)

Dr Anne-Laure Tissut (University of Rouen Normandy, France)

Dr Nataša Kampmark (La Trobe University, Australia)

Dr Sanja Runtić (University of Osijek, Croatia)

Dr Sanja Ignjatović (University of Niš, Serbia)

Dr Zoran Paunović (University of Novi Sad, Serbia)

Dr Vladislava Gordić Petković (University of Novi Sad, Serbia)

Dr Zorica Đergović-Joksimović (University of Novi Sad, Serbia)

Dr Aleksandra Izgarjan (University of Novi Sad, Serbia)

Dr Mirna Radin-Sabadoš (University of Novi Sad, Serbia)


Abstracts for 20-minute paper presentations should be submitted to elaltconference@gmail.com.


Deadline for the submission of abstracts: May 30, 2024

Deadline for the notification of acceptance: June 30, 2024