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Text as a technology for care and understanding (Online)
Provider: Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Activity no.: 3920-21-00-00 
Enrollment deadline: 25/06/2021
Date and time16.08.2021, at: 09:00 - 18.08.2021, at: 16:00
Regular seats25
Course fee2,880.00 kr.
LecturersLouise Whiteley
ECTS credits2.50
Contact personAnnegrethe Hansen    E-mail address: ahan@sund.ku.dk
Enrolment Handling/Course OrganiserPhD administration     E-mail address: phdkursus@sund.ku.dk

Aim and content
This is a generic course. This means that the course is reserved for PhD students at the Graduate School of Health and Medical Sciences at UCPH. Anyone can apply for the course, but if you are not a PhD student at the Graduate School, you will be placed on the waiting list until enrollment deadline. After the enrolment deadline, available seats will be allocated to the waiting list.

The course is free of charge for PhD students at Danish universities (except Copenhagen Business School), and for PhD students at graduate schools in the other Nordic countries. All other participants must pay the course fee.

Learning objectives
A student who has met the objectives of the course will be able to:

1. Knowledge: Describe ways in which text can be problematized theoretically and empirically.

2. Skills: Apply theoretical/empirical approaches to textuality by (critically) reflecting on their own research practice and that of others’.

3. Competencies: Identify various ways in which text might appear as both object of study and medium for communication in their own research.

The recent and ongoing transformations of information technologies give rise to renewed considerations of text as technology. In philosophy and in the social sciences, Derrida’s theoretical legacy is revisited (e.g. Latour’s concept of ‘inscription devices’ and Stiegler’s reconstruction of the ‘pharmakon’ of text), the conceptual distinction and overlap between poetics and knowledge is reformulated (Rancière), and alternative forms of academic writing and presentations are explored (Haraway, Neimanis). The reconsiderations of text as technology also unfold as empirical explorations of textuality - in general (e.g. www.Scriptopolis.fr), or more specifically in various fields of practice.
Textuality is related to governance by standardization of practices such as those of education, medicine, or care (Smith, Mol). In teaching, this governance interacts in complex ways with the traditional place of text in the education of literate and enlightened citizens. In practices of mental health care, text is also studied as performative and cultivated in for example ‘writing groups’ for psychiatric patients or users of drug counselling, and in the use of poetry in narrative therapy. Such practices experiment with various aspects of textuality, developing purposes and forms that move beyond institutional traditions of care. The relation between textuality and governance is part of the wider transformation ‘from cure to care’ that has popularized health and medicalized everyday life. Self-diagnosing through social media or internet biosocialities can, for example, be seen as a contemporary textual technology of healthcare - in addition to traditional medical records and journals. Changing publics, communities and genres of health derive from and give rise to changing purposes, and thus to questioning the multiple forms and functions of text in this field.

Similar problematizations arise from the aesthetic field along with the growth of hybrid arts, relational aesthetics, and the fusion of art with aesthetic theory (Groys, Rebentisch). Poets (like other artists) explore the implications of breaking down the distinction between the person and the position of the author, of inviting or sampling ‘outsider artists’, and of reshaping the texture of texts.
These theoretical and practical problematizations connect to a growing field of studies, investigating how texts (or derivates, successors, etc. of text) are made, used, and have an impact when they are carried by new media such as emails, twitter, SoMe, TicToc etc. Such recontextualizations of ‘text’ prompt reconsiderations of how and when ‘texts’ are (un-/)healthy, (mis-/)informative, stultifying or edifying - and also of what constitutes ‘text’ as such.

To say that this research is “about textuality” has two meanings: 1. Research turns textuality into its object of study, and 2. Research reflects on itself as reading, producing and performing text. In some cases, both aspects are relevant, for example, in the methodological tradition of ‘Memory Work’ (Haug and others) where writing is seen to recreate the selves who are studied and further cultivated toward publishing, thus used as data and method. This reflexivity of text is connected to disturbing the conventional image of research as a linear progression: state-of-the-art ? problem ? method ? data ? analysis ? publication. In a similar vein, exhibitions are ”about textuality,” investigating a topic through exhibits, while reflecting on itself and its visitors through fund applications, informative texts on walls, catalogues, advertisements and exhibition events etc. Museum and research practice goes hand-in-hand at Medical Museion, a medical museum and research department at the University of Copenhagen (https://www.museion.ku.dk/). Besides being the location of the course, the exhibitions and practice of Medical Museion form part of the problematization of textuality, for example in public science communication about health.

The issue of text as technology opens questions about the demarcations between academic disciplines if we take up the reflections following Derrida. Text is no longer a (scientific or otherwise) representation, nor an inconsequential or perverting formalization, of a more true and authentic speech, practice, or everyday life. Research can thus no longer be “about” processes that are outside of text. Reflections on textuality in philosophy, science and technology studies (STS), anthropology etc. question the constitution of the objects of psychology as of any other science. Conversely, psychological, public health and other practical or scientific analyses and experiences are pertinent to philosophical reflections on the textual performance of thinking.

The course directs itself towards PhD students whose projects relate to issues of textuality, especially, in or across practices of health, medicine, education and care. Knowledge and experience from research approaches in the social sciences and humanities as well as familiarity with science and technology studies are advantages for achieving the learning objectives of the course. Students at all stages of their PhD can benefit from the course.

Relevance to graduate programmes
The course is relevant to PhD students from the following graduate programmes at the Graduate School of Health and Medical Sciences, UCPH:

Medicine, Culture and Society


The course takes form as workshops over three days, from August 16th up to and including August 18th, 2021. The course will consist of oral and textual discussions of texts that form part of the participants’ research activities, for example, as references, as data, as vehicles of health or care practices, as art or as publications. The course will take place on Zoom and be adapted according to current Corona restrictions. Moreover, we invite the participants to participate in a two days seminar to which we will invite further guest speakers who will discuss and show different approaches to text as technology. The seminar takes place on August 19th - August 20th, 2021 at the Danish School of Education, Aarhus University (DPU), Emdrup. The seminar is an opportunity to go deeper with the course content, but it is not a part of the course/ECTS nor a requirement to pass it.

As preparation for the course, the participants are expected to read the literature for the course as basis for the discussions. The participants are furthermore asked to write an essay (max four pages) where they reflect on the ways in which their research is about text: How text might appear as object of study and/or medium for communication in their own research practice. The essay should include references to selected literature from the course readings. The essays will be shared amongst the course participants and support the connection between the theoretical discussions of text and the participants’ individual projects.

Please send your essay to Tine Friis (tine.friis@sund.ku.dk) and Morten Nissen (mn@edu.au.dk) no later than August 4th.

Day 1: Medical Museion, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen
09:00 – 10:00 Check-in: Welcome and presentation of the course (background, purpose, practical) and of participants (LW, MN & TF)
10:00 – 10:15 Coffee break
10:15 – 12:15 Lecture session: Morten Nissen
12:15 – 13:15 Lunch
13:15 – 14:15 Empirical session (EM, MN & TF)
14:15 – 14:30 Coffee break
14:30 – 15:45 Empirical session (EM, MN & TF)
15:45 – 16:00 Check-out (TF & MN)

Day 2: Medical Museion, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen
09:00 – 09:15 Check-in (TF & MN)
09:15 – 11:15 Lecture session: Louise Whiteley and Adam Bencard
11:15 – 11:30 Coffee break
11:30 – 12:30 Empirical session (EM, MN & TF)
12:30 – 13:30 Lunch
13:30 – 14:30 Lecture session: Tine Friis
14:30 – 14:45 Coffee break
14:45 – 15:45 Empirical session (EM, MN & TF)
15:45 – 16:00 Check-out (TF & MN)
19:30: Dinner

Day 3: Medical Museion, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen
09:00 – 09:15 Check-in (TF & MN)
09:15 – 11:15 Lecture session: Emily Martin
11:15 – 11:30 Coffee break
11:30 – 12:30 Empirical session (EM, MN & TF)
12:30 – 13:30 Lunch
13:30 – 14:30 Empirical session (EM, MN & TF)
14:30 – 14:45 Coffee break
14:45 – 15:45 Empirical session (EM, MN & TF)
15:45 – 16:00 Check-out (TF & MN)

Course director
Louise Whiteley, Associate Professor, Medical Museion and CBMR, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, lowh@sund.ku.dk

Louise Whiteley, Associate Professor, Medical Museion and CBMR, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen
Adam Bencard, Associate Professor, Medical Museion and CBMR, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen
Tine Friis, PhD Fellow, Medical Museion and CBMR, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen
Emily Martin, Professor Emerita of Anthropology, New York University
Morten Nissen, Professor, Danish Shool of Education, Aarhus University

16 - 18 August 2021

Course location
Online course

Please register before 25 June 2021

Seats to PhD students from other Danish universities will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and according to the applicable rules.
Applications from other participants will be considered after the last day of enrolment.

Note: All applicants are asked to submit invoice details in case of no-show, late cancellation or obligation to pay the course fee (typically non-PhD students). If you are a PhD student, your participation in the course must be in agreement with your principal supervisor.

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