Phenomenology and Health: An Interdisciplinary Symposium

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The Inaugural Conference of the Oxford Phenomenology Network

TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre for Humanities), University of Oxford, 27-28 March 2015

This two-day symposium seeks to explore the interrelations between phenomenology and health from a wide variety of perspectives. We aim to stimulate multi-disciplinary discussions between scholars of science and humanities and those engaged in phenomenological practice outside of academia.

Phenomenology is increasingly being employed as both a method of inquiry and a form of practice in a range of healthcare settings. Phenomenological thinking is informing research into the lived experience of long-term health conditions and proving invaluable for psychotherapists, nurses, GPs and others who work closely with clients and patients. Humanities researchers are using phenomenology to interpret and think through representations of health, illness, and disability in literature, art, film, and other forms of historical and contemporary media, and to consider the direct experience of ill people from ethical and ontological perspectives. From Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy of embodiment and Sartre’s thoughts on pain, to important works such as Frederik Svenaeus' The Hermeneutics of Medicine and the Phenomenology of Health (2000) and Havi Carel’s Illness: The Cry of the Flesh (2008), phenomenology provides multiple frameworks for the study and practice of healthcare and the experience of health, illness, pain, and disability.

We welcome proposals for 15-20 minute papers, or panels of 3 papers, on any aspect of the intersections between phenomenology and health. Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • The role of phenomenology in the relationship between patient and care provider
  • Phenomenology and psychotherapy
  • Health and embodiment
  • Phenomenological ideas of pain and phantom pain
  • Phenomenological perspectives on representations of the healthy and unhealthy in life-writing and fiction
  • Phenomenological perspectives on visual, aural, and tactile works of art depicting illness
  • The lived-experience of people with long-term health conditions and disabilities
  • The phenomenology of aging
  • The phenomenology of exercise
  • Embodied perception: non-normative hearing, seeing, tasting, and feeling
  • Health and the mind-body problem
  • Phenomenology and the ethics of healthcare

Registration is now open. Please register here.

You can now follow us on Twitter: @OxPhenomenology

You can contact the conference convenors, Dr Cleo Hanaway-Oakley and Erin Lafford, at


Oxford Phenomenology Network