Theatre and Performance Studies Research Seminar – School of Literature, Art and Media Theatre and Performance Studies Research Seminar – School of Literature, Art and Media

Theatre and Performance Studies Research Seminar

Resisting the ‘Patient’ Body: A Phenomenological Account

Sarah Pini and Ruggero Pini (Sarah is a PhD Candidate in the Departments of Anthropology and Cognitive Science at Macquarie University)

According to the biomedical model of medicine, the subject of the illness event is the pathology rather than the person diagnosed with the disease. In this view, a body-self becomes a ‘patient’ body-object that can be enrolled in a therapeutic protocol, investigated, assessed, and transformed. How can it be possible for cancer patients to make sense of the opposite dimensions of their body-self and their body-diseased-object? Could a creative embodied approach enable the coping with trauma tied to the experience of illness?

By applying a phenomenological approach and auto-ethnographic analysis to the experience of cancer, this visual exploration provides support for rethinking the cancer event through a performative perspective. This work previews images and video material collected over ten years of onco-haematological treatments, video dance performances and physical explorations. This work displays how processes of healing can be set in motion by creative embodied practices, physical explorations and unexpected journeys. By resisting the biomedical model and allowing the emergence of new meanings, it illustrates how dance and performative practices offer ground for transformation.

Pulse and Applause: Towards a critical aesthetics of medicine as performance

James Dalton (PhD Candidate, Department of Theatre and Performance Studies, University of Sydney)

Critical health humanities in part approaches art and health as entangled fields, separating one from the other as a heuristic rather than ontological constant. However related interdisciplinary fields, such as sociology of medical education and academic medicine, position arts and humanities as supplementary to health care and, in this specific case, the concerns of medical professionals. Medical doxa, emerging out of evidence-based medicine, shapes this distinction, while medicine’s considerable symbolic capital relative to those of arts and humanities fields sustains its dominance. One result is that medical educators enframe theatre theory and performing arts practice as ‘standing-reserve’, a resource which may be instrumentalised for training medical professionals — the simulated patient, skills for communication — with little consideration for what may occur were this objectifying gaze reversed or diffracted. This paper examines some practices, materials and cultural sensibilities that occupy medical education and medical professionals and teases out potential meanings made available to theatre and performance studies analysis when decoupled from its instrumental relationship to medicine.

  • Theatre and Performance Studies Research Seminar
  • Friday 25th October, 3pm-5pm
  • AV Room (S113), Woolley Building, Manning Rd
  • University of Sydney


Oct 25 2019


3:00 pm - 5:00 pm



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