Reading Group - 'Senses Gone Awry - Chronic Pain, Bodies, Texts, and Emotions'

Jef Safi - 'rhizome dis(re)construction . .' (Via  Flickr ;  CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 )

Jef Safi - 'rhizome dis(re)construction . .' (Via FlickrCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This bi-monthly Reading Group, based in UCL's Institute of Advanced Studies, provides a collaborative space for researchers from various disciplines to discuss theoretical understanding(s) of the senses in a state of disorder, drawing from well-established approaches and recent cutting-edge paradigms alike. Our chief focus will be on chronic pain, though works which deal with dysfunctional senses more generally will also be part of our corpus. Chronic pain is persistent, usually lasting for three months or more, does not respond well to analgesia, and does not improve after the usual healing period of any injury. The phenomenon, then, equates to sensory ‘misfiring’: the experiences of chronic-pain sufferers testify to the very real sensations provoked when normal neurological and biological functions ‘go wrong’, when the senses act seemingly according to their own ‘logic’.

What happens when the senses go awry, when sensory input no longer makes ‘sense’ to the human subject? How do those with seemingly malfunctioning senses deal with such phenomena? How does the medical establishment deal with such cases, which are often incredibly difficult to remedy? Should a ‘cure’ be the aim of medical interventions in all cases of sensory dysfunction? In what ways do senses that don’t make rational ‘sense’ challenge our ideas about the relationship(s) between the body, the mind, and our communities? These are some of the questions that will be under discussion in our meetings, guided by the selected texts under discussion.

Sessions will take place at 4-6pm on the following Thursdays during the academic year 2016-2017:

  • 24th November - please note change of location for this meeting - IAS Seminar Room 11
  • 26th January
  • 23rd March
  • 1st June
  • 27th July
  • 28th September


Sessions will take place in IAS Seminar Room 20, (First Floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building), with tea and coffee provided. All postgraduate students, post-docs, and staff are welcome.

Please contact Alicia Spencer-Hall to be added to the Reading Group e-mail list and receive .pdfs of the texts under discussion. Please also don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any queries, including access requirements.

The Reading Group is intended to be an open, flexible, and collaborative forum. As such, suggestions for reading material(s) to be consulted in future sessions are enthusiastically welcomed! Texts which focus directly on chronic pain, or those which more broadly treat the topic of sensory dysfunction are equally eligible. If you would like to propose works for our discussion, or informally chair one of our meetings around a specific theme, please contact the organiser.

Update: Want to see what we've read so far? Check out the bibliography here.

Here's a poster about the Reading Group - feel free to share as you see fit!

Here's a poster about the Reading Group - feel free to share as you see fit!