Health, Art and Society

Health, Art and Society  (HAS) is an interdisciplinary research group working on illness narratives. HAS was established in 2015 and is working within the field of medical/health humanities.

Coming up 2020

Writing retreat

HAS organizes a PhD-writing retreat and a research and strategy seminar on Sommarøy 24-26. February. Only invited guests.

Wednesday 9. March

PhD-candidate Lise-Mari Lauritzen will have her mock-defense/final reading on Zoom at 10.00-11.30. Professor in nordic language and literature, John Brumo from NTNU will act as opponent. The talk will be in Norwegian. You can read about Lise's dissertation here. The event is organized by the research school NAFOL. If you would like to attend, please contact

Wednesday 9. December 

Høsten 2020 ble det tverrfaglige temaet folkehelse og livsmestring innført i skolen. Læreplanen presenterer temaet som omfangsrikt, men et overordnet mål er å lære elevene å håndtere livets medgang og motgang. HAS inviterer til webinar der professor i psykologi Ole Jacob Madsen (UiO) og stipendiat i norskdidaktikk Lise-Mari Lauritzen (UiT) møtes til en tverrfaglig samtale om folkehelse og livsmestring. 

Webinaret finner sted på Zoom fra 11.00-12.00, det er gratis og åpent for alle. Du kan melde deg på via

For nærmere informasjon, ta kontakt med eller 

Thursday 10. December

HAS is organizing a digital Ph.d. seminar with Paula Mikalsen, Lise-Mari Lauritzen og Ingri Løkholm Ramberg from 0930-12.00. Plenary comments. For further information, please contact Henrik Johnsson

15-18. November 

HAS organiserer ph.d. kurset HIF-8100 Literature and medicine (webinar). Litteratur og medisin er et fagfelt innen medisinsk humaniora som utforsker litterære uttrykk omkring helse og sykdom. Interesseområdene er blant annet livsmestring, helse og (fysisk og psykisk) lidelse, handikap, traumer og vold, biomedisinsk vitenskap og legepraksis, slik disse representeres figurativt i litteraturen. 

Forelesere er Laura Castor, Huw Grange, Henrik Johnsson, Jens Lohfert Jørgensen, Linda Nesby og Nora Simonhjell

Thursday 22. October

HAS is organizing a digital Ph.d. seminar with Paula Mikalsen, Lise-Mari Lauritzen og Ingri Løkholm Ramberg from 0930-12.00. Plenary comments.

Friday 24. April

HAS is organizing a Ph.d. seminar with Paula Mikalsen og Ingri Løkholm Ramberg from 10-12.00. Mikalsen and Ramberg will present one chapter each from their Ph.d. theses .Main commentator is Huw Grange, Oxford, and Henrik Johnssson, UiT The arctic University of Norway.

Monday 16. April

Dr. med. Sandra Goldbeck-Wood will defend her thesis: When bodies speak and words act – poetry, psychosomatic illness and the lost art of medicine. The trial lecture is entitled “How can medical school educate students to approach challenges and complexity with creative curiosity“

Members of the comitee are Finn Skårderud, Neil Vickers and Unni Ringberg.  Due to the Coronavirus situation the defence (which was expected to take place March 30) was postponed until April 16th and took place online.

Tuesday 25. February Espen Dietrichs will give a guestlecture entitled "The Brain and the Arts". The lecture will take place from 13.15-15.00 at Medisin og helsefagbygget: Auditorium 1 (MHU6.A1AUD1)

Espen Dietrichs is a neurology professor at the University of Oslo and Head of Department of Neurology at Oslo University Hospital. He has written several books, among others Understanding the Human Body, and Our Fantastic Brain (together with Leif Gjerstad). Our Fantastic Brain received a Brage Price in 1995. He introduces his lecture in the following way: 

The brain changes all the time. New cellular contacts are formed, others alter activity or are withdrawn. Everything we experience may influence brain function, including our personality and behavior - and our creativity and perception of art. This lecture will give examples on how both life experiencies and brain diseases have influenced artistic creativity, and how artists have used disease experiencies as inspiration for artistic creativity.

After the lecture there will be a plenary dicussion adressing the benefits and challenges in making medicine and  art work together. Everyone is welcome! 

Thursday 26. April

I sine to siste romaner, Penelope er syk (2017) og Jeg føler meg uvel (2019) skriver Ole Robert Sunde om tapet av en ektefelle og tomheten og sorgen han etterlates i. Bøkene har genrebetegnelsen romaner, men nærheten til forfatterens egne, personlige erfaringer er sterkt til stede.

Romanene er frittstående fortellinger om hvordan det som pårørende er å erfare alvorlig sykdom, og en utforsking av hvordan sorg kan oppleves. Bøkene tematiserer utfordringer, men også det positive ved å behandle tunge eksistensielle erfaringer i skrift.

Ole Robert Sunde vil lese høyt fra romanene og samtale med Linda Hamrin Nesby, som er førsteamanuensis i nordisk litteratur ved UiT

Sunde was born in 1952 and made his debut in 1982 with On Your Heels. Since then he has published numerous novels and collections of essays and has been awarded both the Gyldendal Prize and the Aschehoug Prize.He was nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize 2013 with The War was My Family's Story (2012). Also nominated for the Brage Prize 2017 with Penelope Is Ill.

Earlier events

Tuesday 21. January 2020

Professor Hilde Bondevik from the Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences at the University of Oslo gives a guestlecture about literature and medicine. She is invited as part of the activities of the interdisciplinary group Humanites in Medicine (HIM) - former PHRONESIS). Bondevik's academic interests are gender, health and illness, Medical history, illness narratives and philosopy of science. The lecture is given at SVHUM-A 2021 09.15-11.00. Contact  person is Thor Eirik Eriksen from The University Hospital of Northern Norway The Univeristy Hospital of Northern Norway/UiT


18. December 

Welcome to this year´s last HAS meeting. We meet at 10.15 in SVHUM A 3021 for a discussion on the upcomming events in 2020 and status for the members in HAS. There will also be a plenary review on Linda Nesby´s article "Tuberculosis in Hamsun´s Victoria (1898)". The meeting will end with Christmas lunch at 12.00.

13. December

HAS are hosting four MA-candidates. Friday 13 December from 10-14.00 at E 20002 Nora Narvestad (Astrid Lindgren), Trine Opdahl Pedersen (Olaug Nilssen), Ulrikke Stenvold (Olaug Nilssen) and Eva Marie Haugen Talseth (Edvard Hoem) will present their projects and receive feedback in a plenary session. The seminar is intended for HAS-members only. 

9. December

As part of the Phronesis-project there will be a workshop where Bjørn Hofmann, NTNU is an invited guest. Hofmann is a professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology at Gjøvik and an adjunct professor at the Centre for medical ethics at the University of Oslo. He holds a PhD in philosophy of medicine and is trained both in the natural sciences and in the humanities. His main research interests are philosophy of medicine, philosophy of science, technology assessment, and bioethics.

Hofmann has been a researcher at The Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services (2002-13) and a Harkness fellow (Commonwealth Fund) at the Dartmouth College (2014-15).

Contact person for the workshop is Thor Eirik Eriksen from The University Hospital of Northern Norway (UNN)/UiT The Arctic University of Norway. The workshop takes place at SVHUM-A 3021 09.15-15.00

22. November Guestlecture by Ernst van Alphen: Madness and Introspection

In the dominant discourse madness is considered as the opposite of rationality. It concerns the decline, and in extreme cases even the disappearance of rationality in the organization of human conduct and experience. I will explore a more recent, modernist discourse on madness. The new discourse does not understand madness as a decline of rationality, but as an increase or intensification of reason.  This modernist discourse on madness manifests itself in literary novels that magnify the practice of introspection to the most extreme extent. In order to better understand the radical effects of introspection through first-person narration, I will focus on the Dutch novel A Posthumous Confession (Een nagelaten bekentenis) from 1894 by Marcellus Emants. In order to understand the literary and psychological impact of this activity comparisons will bemade of Emants’ novel with other narratives that consist of the same speech act of relentless introspection, first of all with Robert Musil’s monumental icon of modernism, Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, then with Why I am not Mad (Waarom ik niet krankzinnig ben) from 1929 by the Dutch writer Maurits Dekker, and the novella The Kreutzer Sonata by the Russian writer Lev Tolstoy (1891).

Ernst van Alphen is professor of Literary Studies at Universiteit Leiden. His publications include Failed Images: Photography and Its Counter-Practices (Valiz 2018),  Staging the Archive: Art and Photography in the Age of New Media (Reaktion Books 2014), Art in Mind: How Contemporary Images Shape Thought (University of Chicago Press 2005), Armando: Shaping Memory (NAi Publishers 2000) Caught By History: Holocaust Effects In Contemporary Art, Literature, and Theory (Stanford U.P 1997), Francis Bacon and The Loss of Self (Harvard U.P 1995).

The event is organized together with the research group Russsian Space  It takes place 10.15-12.00 in SVHUM  E 0104. Welcome!

11-12. November

Ph.d.-subject "Literature and Medicine" at UiT The Arctic University of Norway hosted by HAS. Contributors Anders Juehl L. Rasmussen, Carsten Stage, Silje H. Warberg, Laura Castor, Henrik Johnsson and Linda Nesby If you would like to participate or have any  questions, please contact Henrik Johnsson

14. November

Associate professor at NTNU, Silje Warberg gives a guestlecture on Olaug Nilssens Tung tids tale at A3019 from 14:15-16. Everyone is welcome!

8. November

John Brumo, NTNU, gives a midwayevaluation on Lise-Marie Lauritzens ph.d. theses Bruk av skjønnlitteratur for å aktualisere folkehelse og livsmestring i norskfaget. The evalution takes place at SVHUM A 2021 0900-12.00 Everyone is welcome!

At 12.30 the same day there will be lunch for invited guests due to the recent publication of the journal Tidsskrift for Forskning i Sygdom og Samfund where HAS were guesteditors.

10 October CFP Spaces of Illness 

Through the project Spaces of Illness, the research group Health, Art and Society seeks to investigate the significance of space for illness and illness experiences among patients and relatives. HAS invite researchers to submit abstracts of maximum 300 words for evaluation. You may read the full CFP here Deadline for abstracts is October 10, 2019. 

8-10. October Professor II Matías Martínes visits HAS:

Tuesday 8.10: Guestlecture Recent Challenges to Literary Authorship. Open lecture.13.15-15.00 E 2003

Wednesday: Ph.d. seminar on how to narrate documentary stories followed by individual supervision 10.15-12.00/13.00-15.00 D 1017

Thursday: Guestlecture Truth claims in illness narratives. Open lecture. 12.15-14.00 A 3021

6. September

Lars Rune Waage, University of Stavanger, evaluates ph.d. Paula Ryggvik Mikalsens ph.d. theses Gothic Infections: Tracing the Gothic in Contemporary Scandinavian Illness Narratives.

20. – 24. May

Professor II, Matías Martínez holds a Ph.d. seminar, gives a guestlecture about narratology and offers individual supervision for the Ph.d candidates. 

28. March

Guestlecture by associate professor Carsten Stage (Universitetet i Århus), Den entreprenørielle kræftfortælling - en ny patografi på sociale medier.   

The event takes place 13.15-15.00 at C-1006 as part of the course HIF 2043-1

1. March

Ph.d. seminar in SVHUM-A 3021. 09.15-12.00. 

13. March

HAS organizes a presentation with Kate Wormersley and Sandra Goldbeck-Wood entitled “From texts to patients - a parallel case study across a generation.”  The presentations will be followed by a plenary discussion.

Kate is currently a junior doctor in Edinburgh who qualified in Cambridge after a first degree in English literature. She´s among other things an accomplished freelance writer who publishes on medical topics in the serious lay media, and co-edits a medical history blog. She has a burgeoning interest in both women´s and sexual health, and in interdisciplinary approaches to health. Kate  is currently working with HAS-member Sandra Goldbeck-Wood as Editorial Fellow at  BMJ Sexual and Reproductive Health. 

The meeting takes place at SVHUM A-3021

15. March

Guestlecture by  Assistant Professor  Lasse R. Gammelgaard (Universitetet i Århus), Teaching "MadLit" in High School Classrooms.  The lecture takes place at SVHUM A-2021 (styrerommet) 11.15-13.00

The forthcoming high school textbook “Galskab i litteraturen” (“Madness and literature”) introduces literature’s extensive engagements with states of mind that have traditionally been classified as being outside perceived normality. The talk will address the structure of the book and the issues and concerns a book about this theme entail. The approach is eclectic; it mixes the scientific, objective, and descriptivist language of psychopathology with literature and discourses of literary theory. The thematic chapters all include diachronic and intermedial components. Methodologically, students are then encouraged to approach the material from different vantage points like psychology, narrative theory, intermediality, or creative writing. The aim is to teach students about an important theme in literary history and to give them knowledge of different kinds of mental illnesses. High school students are vulnerable, impressionable young adults, so the endeavor as such has ethical implications, which will be discussed in the talk.

Lasse R. Gammelgaard is assistant professor at the Department of Communication and Culture at Aarhus University, where he obtained his PhD-degree in 2013 with a dissertation on narrative and poetry. He is co-coordinator of the interdisciplinary research group “Health, Media and Narrative” at Aarhus University, and is currently working on a project entitled “Forms of Mental Illness Representation in Contemporary Literature,” which is funded by the Denmark’s Independent Research Fund’s Sapere Aude-grant.​

21. March

Agata Lubowicka, The Universitetet of Gdansk, will give the guestlecture «Polarhelte på glatis: Repræsentationer af sygdom og kropsligt forfald i nutidig dansk grønlandslitteratur» (Polarheros on the ice: Representations of illness and bodily decay in contemporary Greenland literature).  

The lecture will take place at SVHUM A-2021 from 10.15-12.00. 

28. February

In connection with Ph.d. Dragana Lukic's Ph.d. project Gylne øyeblikk: Samskapende kreative samlinger, the movie Away from Her will be shown for HAS-members and other targeted participants.  The event is a collaboration between Artful Dementia Research Lab and HAS.

At Campus Breivika 16.15-19.30. Light refreshments.

Please click here to learn more about the activities at Health, Art and Society.


Skriveretrett HAS Sommarøy 2021

Tre stipendiater, veiledere og HAS-medlemmer møttes til intensiv skrivetrett for første gang på over ett år.

Desember 2020: Litteraturdidaktikk og psykologi - folkehelse og livsmestring: En tverrfaglig samtale 

Professor i psykologi ved Universitetet i Oslo, Ole Jacob Madsen og Ph.d. ved UiT Norges arktiske universitet, LIse-Mari Lauritzen samtaler over mulige innganger til å implementere folkehelse og livsmestring i skolen ved hjelp av litteratur og psykologi. Samtalen fant sted på Zoom og du kan se eventet i opptak her

Litteratur og medisin

Ph.d.-emne som ønsker å utforske feltets tverrfaglige potensiale jennom å presentere ulike litteraturvitenskaplige fagtradisjoners teoretiske og metodiske relevans for feltet litteratur og medisin, dels gjennom å undersøke hva studiet av litterære og medisinske tekster betyr for vår forståelse av forestillinger om sunnhet og sykdom. Bidragsytere:

Laura Castor, UiT: Developing agency without mastery in illness narratives
Huw Grange, UiT: Why health professionals should be well-versed in poetry
Henrik Johnsson, UiT: Medicinhistoria som litteraturvetenskapligt verktyg
Jens Lohfert Jørgensen, Aalborg Universitet: Biopolitik, Joseph Conrads The Nigger of ’the Narcissus’ og COVID-19
Linda Nesby, UiT: Stygge patografier: irritasjon, misunnelse og angst i moderne skandinaviske sykdomsfortellinger
Nora Simonhjell, UiA: Demenslitteratur? Teoretiske utfordringer og muligheter

POSTPONED April 2020: Ole Robert Sunde visits Tromsø

On 26. April, Health, Art and Society (HAS) and Norsk Forfattersentrum were to organizes a plenary talk with Ole Robert Sunde about illness, grief and the joy of writing. Due to the Coronavirus, the event is postponed.

Congratulations Sandy Goldbeck-Wood, dr. philos

Thursday 16. April 2020 Dr. med Sandy Goldbeck-Wood defended her thesis When bodies speak and words act – poetry, psychosomatic illness and the lost art of medicine. The trial lecture was entitled “How can medical school educate students to approach challenges and complexity with creative curiosity“. 

February 2020: The Brain and the Arts Espen Dietrichs gave a guestlecture entitled "The Brain and the Arts": 

This lecture will give examples on how both life experiencies and brain diseases have influenced artistic creativity, and how artists have used disease experiencies as inspiration for artistic creativity.

Dietrichs is a neurology professor at the University of Oslo and Head of Department of Neurology at Oslo University Hospital. 

January 2020: Guestlecture with Hilde Bondevik

On Tuesday 21. Janurary Professor Hilde Bondevik from the University of Oslo talked about evidencebased medicine, cultural diagnoses and humanities place within present medical education. 

December 2019: Midwayevaluation - Ingri Løkholm Ramberg

Thursday 12. December 2019, professor Petter Aaslestad, NTNU, contributed as evaluator of Ingri Løkholm Ramberg's ph.d. theses  Å skrive seg ut. En analyse av Knut Hamsun og Amalie Skrams institusjonsberetninger

February 2020: Art, Aesthetics and the Medical and Health Humanities

The conference will bring together Analytic Aesthetics and the Medical and Health Humanities. The conference aims to stimulate conversations about the connections art and aesthetics have with medicine, medical education, healthcare and the advancement of health and wellbeing. It takes place at the University of Kent, 7th – 9th February 2020. Registration closes 31 January 2020. Keynote talks will be delivered by Professor Rita Charon (Columbia University) and Professor Paul Crawford (University of Nottingham), among others. 

May 2020: Storytelling in the Arts of Narrative Medicine

The annual meeting of  "Nordic Network for Narrative and Medicine" takes place in Copenhagen 6-7. May. CFP can be submitted until 1. February. The meeting is entitled “Storytelling in the Arts of Narrative Medicine” and presentations can be given in any Nordic language or English. HAS encourages everyone to participate and several members of the group will be present in Copenhagen.

June 2020: Spaces of Illness

Health, Art and Society (HAS) seeks to investigate the significance of space for illness and illness experiences among patients and relatives at the symposium "Spaces of Illness"  taking place at Sommarøy 8-10. June. Keynotes are Professor Martina King: The birth of the clinic in German literature: Narrating modern hospital space in Thomas Mann,Thomas Bernhard, Wolfgang Herrndorf and David Wagner and professor Anniken Greve: Does it matter where it happens? The study of narrative meets philosophy of place

June 2020: Space, Place and Design in the Medical and Health Humanities

The CHCI Summer Institute takes place in Odense, 25.-27. June 2020. The CHCI Health and Medical Humanities Network is a partnership of over 30 universities worldwide working in the medical and health humanities. One keynote speaker is Rishi Goyal (MD, Director of the Medicine, Literature and Society program, Columbia University). Deadline for CFP: 15. januar 2020. More information is to be found here

The sociocultural expectations of grief (Sorgens sosiokulturelle forutsetninger)

The Danish journal Nordiske udkast – Tidsskrift for kritisk samfundsforskning seeks contributions about grief from different empirical, theoretical and disciplinary perspectives. Grief may be discussed due to social and political point of views, as well as cultural, institutional and environmental approaches. For further questions, please contact og 

Deadline for abstract submission is 1. March. Final articles are expected 1. June 2020.