Executive Summary

Inspired by innovative work on the use of narratives in medicine and healthcare (e.g. Rita Charon’s Narrative Medicine, 2006) the one-day workshop for which this application is being made will bring together undergraduate and postgraduate students from Warwick (without disciplinary restrictions) and academic staff from Warwick and Durham to collaboratively investigate the potential for narrative to shape our understanding of our own and others’ difficult experiences, with a particular focus on health (both physical and mental), and teaching and learning.

Two of the key questions to be investigated are

  1. In what ways do students use narratives to make sense of difficult experiences in their own lives – in particular health and education-related experiences – both for their understanding of themselves, and to communicate to, and understand the experiences of others?
  2. How might students and staff work collaboratively to use narrative structures to help students cope better with their own and others’ difficult experiences?

The workshop will build on previous work done by Dr. Vivan Joseph, funded by an IATL Teaching Fellowship (Peer-Led Research and Teaching project, 2015), which itself built on the IATL-sponsored Student As Researcher methodology (2012, 2014), and will complement pioneering new work being carried out by IATL (Dr. Elena Riva, Understanding Wellbeing). Students will be involved as equal partners in the whole process, from the preliminary work involved in investigating question 1, to the conclusions that will emerge from an investigation of question 2.

The workshop will be interdisciplinary in terms of the students participating, as well as the range of speakers – Dr. Vivan Joseph (Philosophy/IATL), Dr. Liz Barry (English), Katie Hall (English), Dr. Angela Woods (Durham, Medical Humanities). The four speakers will provide a range of theoretical and applied uses of narrative which will be structured around two student-led sessions investigating questions 1 and 2 respectively. The anticipated output of the workshop is an empirically informed toolkit for the use of narrative in understanding and communicating our own and others’ difficult experiences.