Visualising the world - call for paper

The Danish art jounal Periskop calls for abstracts about representations of illnesss in art:

"Med dette nummer af Periskop ønsker vi at udforske et krydsfelt af repræsentationsformer, som anvendes af både kunstnere og videnskabsfolk til at visualisere verden. Hvordan er lægevidenskabens udveksling med de frie kunstarter blevet undersøgt og tematiseret både i nutidigt og historisk perspektiv? Hvad kendetegner deres forhold i dag? Og kan et kritisk fokus på disciplinernes samspil medvirke til at kaste nyt lys over enkelte værker, kunstnere eller den måde, vi som samfund forholder os til dem på?!

Deadline 15. May. Abstract 300 words. 

Congratulations to dr. philos Sandra Goldbeck-Wood

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 is entitled “How can medical school educate students to approach challenges and complexity with creative curiosity“

The thesis gives a discussion of what poetry has to do with medicine. It is about the psychological necessity and communicative purpose of art, with poetry as an example. It is about what poetry demands of the poet - humility, undogmatic diligence, resilience in the face of complexity, and the ability to think and feel at the same time. It is about a vital service  poetry performs for poet and public which is unamenable to instrumentalisation and systematisation.

This is also about the communicative potential of illness, and the therapeutic need for this to be heard. It is about the receptive, interpretive demands this places on doctors, who, unlike artists, are trapped within a model which does not support  a receptive, interpretive stance. It is about the ineffectiveness, waste, and inhumanity which can result when the body´s hidden communication is misunderstood, and the toll this takes on doctor and patient. Fortunately, creative, interpersonal elements live on in many clinical encounters, despite a climate in modern healthcare which favours operationalisability over understanding. This argues that clinical medicine must oppose unopposed empiricism, and reassert the irreducible therapeutic power of the doctor´s skilled, diligent, attentive human presence. It is a call to rediscover the poetry in medical practice.

Sandy Goldbeck-Wood is a doctor and writer who has been living in North Norway, and Cambridge, UK, since 2012. She is currently training to become a priest in the Church of Norway. Over the course of 20 years in gynaecology, sexual health and psychosexual medicine, she has studied the connections between mind and body, biography and biology. As a published poet, she has explored the part creativity plays in health. Her work balances clinical and pastoral experience with academic reflection on the connections between mental, physical and spiritual aspects of health. Sandy is also a member of HAS and we congratulate her with her brilliant doctoral defense.


POSTPONED Spaces of Illness
Due to the Coronavirus situation, the international workshop "Spaces of Illness" will not be taking place at Sommarøy 8-10. June 2020. The event is postponed until 6. June 2021. We look forward seeing you then! 
The research group Health, Art and Society (HAS) at UiT the Arctic University of Norway seeks to investigate the significance of space for illness and illness experiences among patients and relatives. The CFP was met with large interest from an interdisciplanary group of social scientists, anthropologists, cultural researchers, literary scholars, and medical doctors from England, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and Norway. The organizing commitee consisting of May-Lill Johansen, Matias Martinez, Henrik Johnsson and Linda Nesby, is proud to present the two keynotes, Professor emerita Martina King from the University of Freibourg, Switzerland and Professor Anniken Greve, UiT The Arctic University of Norway.
Martina King is involved in a prosperous interdisciplinary project called Kulturelle Dimensionen der Medizin - medikale Dimensionen der Kultur which includes both literary scholars and medical historians. The project orients itself towards the critical medical humanities. Martina King will give a keynote speech entitled:

The birth of the clinic in German literature: Narrating modern hospital space in Thomas Mann,Thomas Bernhard, Wolfgang Herrndorf and David Wagner.

Anniken Greve is professor within comparative literature and holds a ph.d. in both English literature and philosophy from the UiT Arctic University of Tromsø. She has written extensively on philosophy of space, and fiction and her dissertation within philosophy is entitled Her: Et bidrag til stedets filosofi ([Here. A contribution to the philosophy of space] (1998). The title of Anniken Greve´s keynote lecture on the evening of Sunday 7. June, is:

Does it matter where it happens? The study of narrative meets philosophy of place




The brain and the arts Espen Dietrichs gave 25. February a guestlecture entitled "The Brain and the Arts". 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.


HAS granted for four more years

January 2020 the Faculty of Humanities, Social sciences and Education (HSL) at UIT decided upon their new research groups. HAS was given trust for another period (2020-2023) and we are happy to be able to continue the work, now aiming for submitting both a Ph.D. application to the HSL-faculty and a Norwegian Research Council application: Illness Narratives in Scandinavian Children’s and Young Adult Literature. 

Illness and Tecnhology

From left: Sylvi Stenersen Hovdenak (UiO), Thor Eirik Eriksen (UiT), Bjørn Hofmann (NTNU), Mette Bech Risør (UiT) and Linda Nesby (UiT) 
Monday 9. December 2019, as part of the Phronesis-project, professor Bjørn Hofmann, NTNU visited UiT. 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 event was Thor Eirik Eriksen from The University Hospital of Northern Norway /UiT The Arctic University of Norway. 

HIF-8100 Literature and Medicine

Monday 11. November 2019 marks the start of a three-day Ph.d. seminar reflecting on the field of literature and medicine. The seminar takes place at the UiT Arctic University of Norway and is organized by the research group Health, Art and Society (HAS).
The topics range from phenomenology, narrative medicine, interdisciplinarity, historical background, trauma and celebrity studies will be used as entrances to a discussion on the present day status of literature and medicine within academia.
Lectures by Carsten Stage (Aarhus University), Anders Juhl Langscheidel Rasmussen (University of Southern Denmark), Silje Warberg (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Laura Castor, Henrik Johnsson and Linda Nesby (UiT The Arctic University of Norway). 



Grief and Life

Due to the launch of Trine Hamran's pathography, Farewell, my friend (Farvel, min venn) the publishing house, Utenfor Allfarvei Forlag organized a series of four open lectures. The first was entitled "Grief in art" and took place at Galleri Nord-Norge in Harstad, Tuesday 1. October 2019. Sandra Goldbeck-Wood and Linda Nesby from HAS contributed, together with the dancer Anne-Katrine Haugen and Trine Hamran. The panel was moderated by Rikke Gürgens Gjærum.

You can read more about the event series and see the streemed lectures and discussion here
«Doktoren forstår ikke, hvad jeg siger"
How illness experience is created by the interaction between patient and doctor. Danish podcast on narrativ medicine as it is taught at the University of Southern Denmark, Odense:  
The 7th International Hamsun-conference

From left: Henrik Johnsson, Bibi Jonsson, Ingri Løkholm Ramberg, Linda Nesby and Ståle Dingstad.

The 7th International Hamsun-conference took place at UiT The Arctic University of Norway.  Thank´s to all participants and not least to the esteemed keynote speakers, professors Bibi Jonsson from Lund University and Ståle Dingstad, University of Oslo. 

The conference theme was Hamsun and Borders, and boundary states within medicinal/psychological disciplines will be adressed. HAS-members Henrik Johnsson, Ingri Løkholm Ramberg and Linda Hamrin Nesby were hosting the Conference

Spaces of Illness 2020 

Through the project Spaces of Illness, the research group Health, Art and Society (HAS) at UiT the Arctic University of Norway seeks to investigate the significance of space for illness and illness experiences among patients and relatives. The place or space is of cental significance within several disciplines, and carries various meanings. It may include geographical, concrete and mental spaces.

 The project Spaces of Illness will organise a workshop at Sommarøy outside of Tromsø in Norway 8-10 June 2020 ( The organisers hereby invite researchers to submit abstracts of maximum 300 words for evaluation. With Spaces of Illness, we encourage contributions that will address space or place in connection to illness. The contributions should have a narrative perspective. Interdisciplinary contributions are particularly welcome. We aim to publish the contributions as an anthology within the book series Narratologia at de Gruyter

Based on the accepted abstracts, a selection of scholars will be invited to submit a finished article draft and to participate at the workshop, where all the articles will be discussed and commented. Deadline for abstracts is October 10, 2019. Deadline for submission of article draft will be 15. May, 2020. You may read the full abstract here

Collaboration with Novartis 2019

Novartis is a Swiss biotechnology company, established in 1996 as a result of a merger between Ciba Geigy and Sandoz. Novartis and its predecessors have a history of more than 250 years based on the development of innovative products. They are one of the Western world's largest producers of pharmaceutical drugs. HAS is contributing with its research on patient stories to a project initiated by  Novartis that focuses on normality and everyday life for cancer patients. In early spring 2019, Novartis launches the magazine "Vendepunkt" ("Turning Point"), in which HAS will contribute with an article about authobiographical illness narratives related to breast cancer in a historical and contemporary perspectivede (see publications).



15. March 2019: Teaching “Madlit” in a High School Classroom:

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.




News 2018

Symposium in Paris 2018



Twenty odd years ago Petter Aaslestad’s study of patient records from Gaustad Hospital was published. The premise of “Patient as Text” was to apply modern narratological tools to a close-reading of close to a century’s worth of patient records, which led to a simple, yet tantalizing question: what can narratology do for the medical Sciences? 


In September, HAS invited Aaslestad and 22 researchers to the Norwegian University Centre (Centre Universitaire de Norvége à Paris, CUNP) in Paris to share their papers and to gauge the   

Linda Hamrin Nesby, May-Lill Johansen and Cathinka Dahl Hambro

current standing of the Nordic branch of fields like medical humanities and narrative medicine. Due to the "Patient as text - symposium in Paris 2018, this newsarticle was published on the newsfeed of UiT The Arctic University of Norway.


Patient stories: An encounter between literature and medicine. The weekend university 10 November 2018


More and more people tell their stories about their own or their relative's illness. How may literary studies and medicine contribute together to unlock the potential within these stories in order to improve patient treatment? 
Stories that address illness have become increasingly popular, particularly autobiographical descriptions of self-experienced illness or illness within the close family. Patient stories such as these may provide an additional picture of what it means to be ill, and potentially contribute to a greater understanding of the patient's situation. They may also provide better grounds for communication between patient and the health care services, as well as between patient and relatives. But how may we best approach such stories in order to unlock the underlying potential of this genre? 



Gynecologist Sandra Goldbeck-Wood at Cambridge University Hospitals and literary scholars Ingri Løkholm Ramberg and Linda Nesby will discuss the opportunities - but also the challenges - they face in the study of patient narratives - texts that represent an encounter between literature and medicine. Before the discussion there will be a short presentation of the genre patient narratives. Associate Professor Henrik Johnsson will lead the discussion. All four participants are membes of the research group Health, Art and Society (HAS).




The discussion will take place at Kulturhuset on 10 November 2018 at 13:00. 



IASS 2018: Scandinavian Exceptiononalisms. A brief summary on the HAS panel 

In August, three members of the HAS research group attended the conference arranged by The International Association of Scandinavian Studies (IASS). Linda Nesby was responsible for the panel “Illness and society in Scandinavian literature”, which was chaired by Anders Juhl Langscheidel Rasmussen. HAS members Henrik Johnsson and Ingri Løkholm Ramberg contributed to the panel with Linda Nesby.  

In her presentation, Linda Nesby discussed the challenges of relatives and next of kin in contemporary Scandinavian patient narratives, using insights from scholar David B. Morris’ Eros and Illness. Nesby addressed different strategies for coping with serious cases of illness in loved ones, and how this is expressed in the literature. 
Henrik Johnsson’s presentation was titled “Folkhemmets oskuld. Tvångssteriliseringar iskandinavisksamtidslitteratur” and concerned how compulsory sterilization has become a prominent motif in contemporary Scandinavian fiction. Johnsson showed, through an analysis of selected novels, how sterilization is frequently used as a theme that also connotates themes such as gender, sexuality and guilt.

In the panel’s final presentation, Ingri Løkholm Ramberg examined Knut Hamsun’s final work På gjengrodde stier with an emphasis on the journey motif, as this relates the patient narrative to the canonized theoretical literature that address the connection between literature and illness. In her presentation, Løkholm Ramberg discussed how the journey motif affects Hamsun’s work as a form of apologia.

Linda Nesby also chaired a different, but related, panel titled “Narrativmedicin”, and both panels were concluded with fruitful and insightful discussions about the challenges, the advantages and the future of both narrative medicine and medical humanities. 

Psykosen som billedspråk. Kunstnersamtale på Norsk teknisk museum. 2018


Inger Emilie Nitter har vært innlagt fire ganger på Blakstad sykehus. Erfaringene fra dettebruker hun iboka som lanseres "Den indrepolferden. Psykosen som bildespråk", itekstilarbeidene "Faner for frihet" og iforestillingen "Tankebarnet". Ingeborg Høvik og Marie-Theres Federfhofer vilsamtale med Nitter søndag 2. september 2018. 

Greetings from Aarhus . A note from the AU Summer University 2018

My name is Lise-Mari Lauritzen, and I’m one of the phd-students in the research group Health, Art and Society. This summer I spent three weeks in Aarhus to attend a course called "Madness and Literature: What fiction can do for our understanding of Mental Illness" held by Lasse Gammelgaard.


The students in the course made up a quite interdisciplinary group. There were many from literary studies, but psychology and sociology were also represented. The syllabus did also contain a mix of perspectives. We looked at the history of mental illness, supplied by Virginia Woolf’s On Being Ill (1930). Important insights from this essay are that illness leads to isolation and that there isn’t a sufficient language for describing illness, compared to grand feelings like love. We read Lord Byron’s “The Lament of Tasso”, and from this we discussed the author as a mad genius. “The Tell-Tale Heart”, by Poe and “Maud” by Tennyson were used as examples to emphasize the unreliable narrator. By using Ellen Forney’s Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me (2012), a comic, we discussed the graphic memoir as therapy.  
We talked about romantic, modern and postmodern views on the creative imagination, and we went to the psychiatric art museum Overtaci at Aarhus Universitetshospital. Louis Marcussen, known as Overtaci, lived at the hospital for 56 years. He is the central artist of the museum’s exhibition, but it’s also possible to experience l’Art Brut created by other artists who suffer from mental illness. Since the topic of the day was creative writing, we had to choose one piece of art from the exhibition and write a text about it. We got 30 minutes to do the writing. Later that week we presented our work in small groups.

During the course we had four guest lecturers, Peter Simonsen on history, form and functions of Dementia Literature, Jørn Erslev on Hölderlin, Mette Steenberg talked about Shared Reading and Angelica Recierdo came all the way from New York to show us how Narrative Medicine can be done in practise. Steenberg and Recierdo had workshops were the students were invited to participate in shared reading and writing. I found this particularly interesting because of my phd-work on how we can use literature in high school to create conversations and knowledge about mental health.

The course also included a two-day conference: Madness and Literature. Professor of Clinical Psychology at Rutgers University, Louis A. Sass and Charley Baker, Lecturer in Mental Health at the University of Nottingham, were keynote speakers. Sass talked about Otto Weininger and madness, and Baker discussed clinical and critical perspectives on psychosis through American author Kathy Acker’s writing. There were also interesting talks about creative writing. 

The AU Summer University takes good care of their students. There was a various social programme with activities like BBQ and games in the University Park, Tivoli, pub-crawl, bowling and a visit to the old town. For The Madness and Literature students a movie night was arranged to watch "Melancholia" (2011) by Lars von Trier. I would like to thank all the students for a great environment and interesting discussions. Thanks to Lasse Gammelgaard and all the other lecturers. I really recommend AU Summer University!


The patient as text - revisited. Symposium in Paris 2018

The research group «Health, Art and Society» organizes the symposium “The patient as text – revisited” at the Norwegian University Centre in Paris 11-13 September 2018.

The symposium will pay tribute to professor Petter Aaslestad’s book The Patient as Text: the Role of the Narrator in Psychiatric Notes, 1890-1990 from 1997. Aaslestad explores selections from more than a century of psychiatric notes at a Norwegian hospital exploring the impact of ideological and medical changes surrounding the psychiatric clinical relationship and psychiatric professionals as constructors of narratives.


The call for paper for the symposium attracted 25 participants from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, France and Argentina. Keynotes will be Professor Jens Brochmeier and Professor Matías Martinez. The programme will be announced in June.

A selection of the presentations will be published in the Danish journal "Sygdom ogsamfund" in autumn 2019.

You can read more about the symposum, program and get some practical information here.

Professor Mathías Martinez is new Adjunct Professor at HAS 2017

From 1 August 2017, Professor Mathiás Martínez from Bergische Universität Wuppertal (Germany) is new Adjunct Professor at HAS. He will be giving a PhD course during week 38.


Matías Martínez (born 1960) did his PhD on ambiguity as a narratological problem (Doppelte Welten. Struktur und Sinn zweideutigen Erzählens, published by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht: Göttingen, 1995). In Wuppertal he has esrablished an iterdisciplinarycentre for narratolgical research, for which he was the director between 2007-2014. Martínez has a wide academic orientation, and has publishedextensively on literary and cultural phenomena from the Middle Ages to modern times on areas such as football, holocaust and the role of the author.

He has published a wide range of works on narratology, such as the anthology ”Wirklichkeitserzählungen” (2010 Metzler Verlag, Stuttgart, Martínez ws co-editor). This anthology opens for a new field within comparative literature, i.e. narratological analyses of non-literary texts. His work ”Einführung in die Erzähltheorie” from 1999 (co-author: Michael Scheffel) appeared in its tenth edition in 2016 and has become a seminal work within introductory literature on narratology. Martinez is Adjunct Professor connected to the research group Health, Art and Society (HAS) at the HSL faculty.

Successfull conference on patient narratives at UiT the Arctic university of Norway 2017






The conference Patient stories in context gathered 56 participants from various fields within and outside of UiT the Arctic University of Norway.
Keynotes Mathias Martínez, Anne Kveim Lie and Molly Andrews talked about narratological, medical historical and sosiological aspects of pasient narratives. A total of 21 papers were presented, of which  five were about ongoing PhD projects. 



Registration for the conference Patient stories in context 2017

The conference Patient Stories in Context will take place at UiT the Arctic University of Norway on January 23 - 24, 2017. The conference is organised by the research group Health, Art and Society (HAS) , and its focus will be on various interdisciplinary and user oriented approaches to parient stories. Keynotes speakers are: 

Fotograf: Stig Brøndbo
  • Molly Andrews, University of East London: Speaking another’s pain: Narratives and Ventriloquism.
  • Anne Kveim Lie, University of Oslo: Patient stories and their uses: From “consultation by letter” to “patient centered care”.
  • Mathias Martinez, Universität Wuppertal: Patient Stories as Narratives: Constructions or Fictions? 

Press adviser at Kreftforeningen (The Norwegian Cancer Society) Andreas Bjørnstad will also give a presentation. The conference will b officially opened by the Dean of Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education, Sonni Olsen. 

There is a conference fee of NOK 500, which includes access to all presentations, conference dinner and lunch and snacks throughout the conference. 

Please find our online registration form here. 

HAS is looking for intersted collaboration parties to develop application for Marie-Sklodowaka-Curie programme 

Last year, UiT the Arctic University of Norway established a so-called ”The Arctic MSCA-IF program». The programme applies to young researchers who aim for an individual postdoctoral fellowship through the  Marie-Sklodowaka-Curie programme (established under H2020). All interested parties are invited to a workshop in Tromsø in May 2017 in order to develop an application in collaboration with a potential supervisor or research group, which will subsequently be submitted to H2020.





HAS is part of this arrangement this year, and we encourage young researchers who wish to apply for a postdoctoral fellowship within Literary Studies/Medical humanities to get in touch with us.















The invitation to participate in the workshop can be found through the EURAXESS portal. Travel expences and hotel will be covered by UiT the Arctic University of Norway:

If you are interested, please contact Professor Marie-Theres Federhofer













All are most welcome!


Dialogue keeps the world together 2016

In a guest lecture arranged by the research group «Health, Art and Society» on 24 May 2016, Professor offactual prose at University of Bergen, Anders Johansen, talked about his two books Særoppgave, Livssyn (1999) and Etter oss. Samtaler på det siste (2010) in light if the overall topic personal stories.

















Særoppgave, Livssyn and Etter oss. Samtaler på det siste address two common issues, that is how to face death as a reality and to show how the world is kept together through dialogue.  Something happens to us through writing and dialogue. The language we use connects us to reality, not primarily by virtue of the creation of meaning itself, but through the communicative act represented by the dialogue. Anders Johansen suggested that through identification with the other and through a joy of life connected to the realisation that everything continues after a person's death lies a secularised version of the religious idea of becoming part of something bigger than oneself. He concluded by quoting  Bertolt Brecht's «Als ich imweissen Krankenzimmer»: 

Det gikk mot morgen da jeg våknet i mitt hvite rom på Charité-sykehuset, og hørte svarttrosten synge, og forsto det bedre. Det var alt lenge siden jeg hadde kjent noen frykt for døden. Jeg kan jo ikke mangle noe når jeg selv er borte. Nå klarte jeg også å glede meg over sangen til alle svarttroster etter meg.


Workshop in Paris

News 2017

















Monday and Tuesday 11 and 12 April, nine HAS members met for a workshop at the Norwegian University Centre in Paris. The workshop was funded by the Research Council of Norway's SAMKUL programme for radical interdisciplinarity. HAS studied central texts from various disciplines (literature, sociology, history and medicine) and discussed the relevance of these texts for the study of patient stories. HAS also discussed the potential for publishing an anthology related to patient stories, and several  suggestions concerning collaboration between the group members were presented. The workshop took place at the University Centre, wich generously organised and funded enjoyable and tasy lunches and dinners.   



Call for papers: Patient stories in Context

The University of Tromsø, Norway 23-24 January 2017

International conference on patient stories in context, University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway (UiT), Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education

January 23–24, 2017

Abstract submission deadline for oral presentations and panel discussions: August 19, 2016 (max 300 words)

Poster sessions: October 21, 2016 (max 150 words)




Workshop i Paris 2016

11 and 12 April 2016, HAS arranges a workshop at The Norwegian University Centre in Paris.

Following an introduction by director of the centre Bjarne Rogan, the focus the next two days will be on reading central texts that sheds light on patient stories from various disciplines. The members will also be asked to present their plans for their article contributions to the anthology about patient stories that we aim to publish around the new year 2016/2017. An update on the status of the international conference  Illness in Context at UiT the Arctic University of Norway will also be given. 

Master's stipend to Lise-Mari Lauritzen

Master's student at the teacher education at UiT, Lise-Marie Lauritzen, has been awareded NOK 25 000 by Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education. Lauritzen is a member of HAS, and her master's thesis is on a HAS related topic.   

Her thesis is a close reading of the authobiographical pathography I morgen var jeg alltid en løve ('A Road Back from Schizophrenia: A Memoir') by Arnhild Lauveng. Her main focus is on language and metaphors in the text, and a central concern is to discuss possible differences in the descriptions of somatic and mental illness. The didactic part of the thesis will discuss whether this book (or pathographies more generally) may contribute to increase the joy of reading among youth.  


Article in "Läkartidningen" on research on patien stories 

Rolf Ahlzén has written the article "Sjukdomsberättelsen i centrum" about reseach on patient stories. The article has been published in the journal "Läkartidningen", the journal of Sveriges läkarförbund (The Swedish Medical Association). The text is available here




Article from HAS in

Following our workshop, HAS decided to write an article to submit to The article was authored by the group leader and has been given the title Hvordan kan pasienthistorier bidra til bedre behandling? (How may patient stories contribute to better treatment?)


Successful HAS workshop 

In late March, the research group met to discuss strategy, further collaboration and an international conference. Torsten Risør, ph.d., head of medical studies in Tromsø and general practitioner, gave a lecture, as did Professor Anka Ryall from Kvinnforsk (Centre for Women's and Gender Research).

It turned out to be a creative, motivating and enjoyable gathering that resulted in an article for among other things.

It was particularly preasant to be able to welcome Associate Professor Jan-Are Kolset Johnsen from Department of Clinical Dentistry to the research group. 



From left: Marie-Theres Federhofer, Lill Tove Fredriksen, Linda Nesby, Anita Salamonsen, Katarina Bernhardsson, Rolf Ahlzén, Hege Andreassen and Michael Schmidt. Jan-Are Kolset Johnsen and Jens Lohfert Jørgensen were not present when the photo was taken. May-LIll Johansen from Faculty of Health Sciences entered the group at a later date. Photo: Stig Brøndbo




SAMKUL succsess for Health, Art and Society

In the end of November, the research group HAS submitted the application "Development of interdisciplinary research group on Patient Stories" to RCN's funding project SAMKUL. Radical interdisciplinarity and relevance to the SAMKUL strategy were among the main criteria in the assessment of applications. We were recently informed that HAS has been granted its application for NOK 135 000 for network building. 


Distinguished Guest Lecturers Visits HAS October 29th - 30th.

Foto: Prof. Paul Crawford by Linda Nesby 

2017  HAS had the great joy of hosting two guest-lecturers on the 29th and 30th October, Katarina Bernhardsson from the University of Lund (SWE) and Professor Paul Crawford from the University of Nottingham (UK). Bernhardsson gave a lecture on Sara Stridsberg’s novel Beckomberga (2014), and Crawford, as the founding father of Health Humanities, in his lecture “Health humanities: Creative Public Health” talked about how applying the arts and humanities can boost ‘mutual recovery’. Illness is a chaos, a vortex that interferes with the lives of everyone with whom it makes contact, not just family and friends, but the health workers involved with patient treatment and recovery. Crawford’s philosophy is that we are all broken, and we can help each other heal. By encouraging creative practices, from literary workshops to arts and crafts, Health humanities is an interdisciplinary, inclusive community that wants to bring “the human back into health”.


HAS would like to thank Professor Crawford and Katarina Bernhardsson for making the trip north, and we hope that our company was an acceptable appeasement for the lack of trolls and northern lights. We hope to see you both again soon.



 Photo: Linda Nesby


Symposium in Paris September 11th- 13th 2018

"Patient as Text - revisited."

Twenty odd years ago Petter Aaslestad’s study of patient records from Gaustad Hospital was published. The premise of “Patient as Text” was to apply modern narratological tools to a close-reading of close to a century’s worth of patient records, which led to a simple, yet tantalizing question: what can narratology do for the medical Sciences?







Petter Aaslestad's seminal work "Patient as Text" (1997) was a significant contribution to Norwegian psyciatric history. Foto: Stig Brøndbo

This September, HAS invited Aaslestad and 22 researchers to the Norwegian University Centre (Centre Universitaire de Norvége à Paris, CUNP) in Paris to share their papers and to gauge the current standing of the Nordic branch of fields like medical humanities and narrative medicine. Among them were 3 of the PhD students from HAS, who all presented papers. Invited keynote speaker Prof. Jens Brockmeier gave a highly thoughtproviking presentation on narratives of trauma among the indigenous population of Canada. Prof Matías Martinéz sadly could not make it to the conference, so the slot was filled with an impromptu, but engaging dialogue between researchgroupleader Prof. Linda Hamrin Nesby and Petter Aaslestad about Aaslestad’s book, his work, and some analysed excerpts from the patient records.

HAS would like to thank Johs and Kirstin at CUNP for making all the arrangments on site in Paris, and for a wonderful conference dinner. Merci à vous et à la prochaine!



Symposium participants listening attentively to one of the PhD student's presentation. Foto: Stig Brøndbo

 HAS lunch

The HAS group meets for lunch on Thursdays at 12:00-13:00. In addition to bringing our own lunch (and occasionally waffles or a cake), one of us will contribute with a short presentation of ongoing work, introduce relevant articles and/or authors, or discuss ideas for projects. The meeting takes place at SVHUM A 3021. We will meet regularly for weekly meetings (se right side for further information on lunch topics).

PhD course on Phenomenology in an interdiscilinary perspective 2018

(SVF-8060 Fenomenologi i et tverrfaglig perspektiv) 5 ECTS.

The course is intended for PhD students from various academic backgrounds. 

The course will take place from 14 - 16 November 2018. 

Three topics will be addressed from a phenomenological viewpoint: 

  • the other
  • the body
  • the past

The topics will be addressed by lecturers from the academic disciplines philosophy, theology and literature, but the course will also be highly relevant to students within the health sciences, the social sciences and history.

One of the main speakers at the course is the medical doctor and philosopher Drew Leder, author of the book The Absent Body, University of Chicago Press, 1990. For more information, please see (in Norwegian). 

Symposium: Religious healing and well-being: historical and contemporary perspectives 2018

On Monday 3 and Tuesday 4 September 2018, the international symposium 'Religious healing and well-being: historical and contempoary perspectives' will take place at UiT the Arctic University of Norway. The symposium is interdisciplinary, and includes scholars from Theology (Istvan Czachesz (UiT), Gerd Theissen (Heidelberg), Risto Uro (Helsinki), Roald Kristiansen (UiT)), Religious Studies (Inga Bårdsen Tøllefsen (UiT)), Philosophy (Carl O'Brien (Heidelberg)), Psychology (Ismael Apud (Montevideo)), and Alternative Medicine/Health Care (Frauke Musial (UiT), Agnete Kristoffersen (UiT)). HAS member Cathinka Dahl Hambro will contribute with a presentation on "Physical Pain as Religious Healing in the Visions of Julian of Norwich". More details on time and place will follow shortly.  

Evening guest lecture with Professor Ola Sigurdson 15 October 2018 at 16:30 in SVHUM E0103

Title: Humor och eksistens

Ola Sigurdson is Professor of Theology at University of Gothenburg, Sweden. He is the author of the book Himmelska kroppar (Heavenly Bodies) about the question of embodiment in the Western philosophical and theological tradition (2006). 

Sigurdson is currently working on a three volume book about humour, subjectivity and transcendence. In this guest lecture, he will talk about how humour may relate to central theological concept such as hope and grace. The lecture is folloved by a social gathering with snacks and drinks. The lecture will be held in Swedish. 


Seminar on the experience of pain and suffering in a contemprary perspective at Sommarøy 15 and 16 October 2018

The seminar is originally for ministers of the Church who work in the health sector, but is open for everyone interested. The seminar seeks to explore how we deal with pain and suffering today, and what this does to us when we or those close to us are affected by illness and suffering. Main speakers are  is psychologist and phillosopher Ida Hallgren (15 October) and theologian Ola Sigurdson (16 October). Deadline for registration is 15 September. Please contact Cathinka Dahl Hambro if you wish to attend. More information will follow. 

Health humanities by professor Paul Crawford 30 October 2018

Professor Paul Crawford visits HAS on 30 October to give a guest lecture on the relationship between medical humanities and health humanities. Paul Crawford is Professor of Health Humanities at the School of Health Sciences, Director of the Centre for Social Futures at the Institute of Mental Health, and Co-Director of Nottingham Health Humanities Research Priority Area, University of Nottingham, UK.

As the founding father of the new, global and rapidly developing field of health humanities, Professor Crawford leads various research in applying the arts and humanities to inform and transform healthcare, health and wellbeing. As the research group fronting health humanities at UiT The arctic university of Norway, HAS is very proud to announce professor Crawford’s visit to Tromsø.

The lecture will take place from 10.15-12.00 at SVHUM E-0101.

HAS panel at Scandinavian Exceptiononalisms. IASS 2018 Conference

Nora Simonhjell, Ingri Løkholm Ramberg, Henrik Johnsson and Linda Nesby from HAS will participate at The International Association of Scandinavian Studies (IASS) Conference  in Copenhagen 7-10 August 2018.  Simonhjell and Nesby are responsible for the panel "Illness and society in Scandinavian literature" which will be chaired by Anders Juhl Langscheidel Rasmussen.


The patient as text – revisited. Symposium in Paris 11-13. September 2018

It is 20 years since the Norwegian literary scholar Petter Aaslestad published The Patient as Text. The Role of the Narrator in Psychiatric Notes, 1890-1990 (1997). In this book, Aaslestad explores around 150 patient files from a Norwegian psychiatric hospital, written between 1890 and 1990. The book was a pioneering work, which made use of a narrative model as a methodological tool on a hitherto unorthodox material within comparative literature.

The research group «Health, Art and Society» has invited 22 international researchers to a symposium  at the Norwegian University Centre in Paris 11-13 September 2018. The symposium explores the role of stories by patients and/or their relatives. The  proceedings will be published in the interdisciplinary peer-reviewed Danish journal “Tidsskrift for Forskning i Sygdom og Samfund” (Journal of Research in Sickness and Society) autumn 2019. You will find the program for the symposium here.

Research seminar – The Occult in Modernist Art, Literature, and Cinema, 23 November 2018.

The editors of the recently released anthology The Occult in Modernist Art, Literature, and Cinema (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018) will present the book during a research seminar on Friday, November 23. The seminar will include presentations by the editors, Tessel M. Bauduin (Universiteit van Amsterdam) and HAS member Henrik Johnsson (UiT), as well as chapter authors Giuliano D’Amico (Senter for Ibsenstudier, University of Oslo) and Marja Lahelma (University of Helsinki). Time and place TBA. For more information on the anthology, please visit the publisher’s web page:



Meeting in The Nordic Network for Narratives in Medicine in Odense, Denmark. 2018

On 4th October the steering committee of the Nordic Network for Narratives in Medicine and the coordinator presented themselves, and the vision of the network was discussed. The next day a session under the headline ”Narratives in medicine” opened by a keynote lecture by Rolf Ahlzén (the keynote lecture was showed via a link)  followed by short responses from Anders Juhl Rasmussen and Jeanette Bresson Ladegaard Knox. The topic ”narratives in medicine” was discussed in small groups where everybody was invited to share their opinions on the topic. The session was closed with short presentations in plenum of the discussion in the groups and some concluding remarks from the steering committee.

Katarina Bernhardsson, Nora Simonhjell, Paula Mikalsen, Lise-Mari Lauritzen and Linda Nesby were present from HAS. The network will hold another workshop in the Spring 2018 in Lund and a workshop in the Fall 2018 in Oslo. 

Open lecture: „What do we learn from narratives? About two types of narrative explanation“ 2017

Tuesday 19 September, Professor Matías Martínez, who is Adjunct Professor at Department of Language and Culture and member of "Health, Art, Society, gave a guest lecture at UiT. 
Matías Martínez is Professor of German literature at Bergische Universität Wuppertal. He is the founder and previou director of Center for Narrative Research (Wuppertal), and has specialised within narrative theory. Among his most recent publications are ”Handbuch Erzählliteratur” and ”Wirklichkeitserzählungen. Felder, Formen und Funktionen nicht-literarischen Erzählens.” In his lecture "What do we learn from narratives? About two types of narrative explanation“ he will talk about narrativestructures in non-fictional texts and stories. 

Registration for the conference Patient stories in context 2017

Registration for the interdisciplinary conference Patient stories in context is now open.

The conferencen is organised by the research group Health, Art and Society (HAS) and takes place at UiT the Arctic University of Norway 23 and 24 January 2017. Keynote speakers are:      

  • Molly Andrews, University of East London: Speaking another’s pain: Narratives and Ventriloquism.
  • Anne Kveim Lie, Universitetet i Oslo: Patient stories and their uses: From “consultation by letter” to “patient centered care”.
  • Mathias Martinez, Universität Wuppertal: Patient Stories as Narratives: Constructions or Fictions? 

The conference fee of NOK 500,- includes access to all presentations, conference dinner and lunches and coffee/tea/snacks throughout the entire conference. Online registration form here. 


Guest lecture about personal narratives 2016

Professor of factual prose at University of Bergen, Anders Johansen, will give a guest lecture for Tuesday 24 May 10-12 in room A-3021, HSL building.

Johansen is an excellent communicator and speaker, and is known as one of Norway's most outstanding essayists. He will give a talk on writing about illness and suffering - both autobiographical and as near relative - using as a starting point the books  Etter oss. Samtaler på det siste (2010) and Særoppgave. Livssyn 


The lcture is open to everyone interested!

Workshop in Paris 2016

The research group HAS is planning a workshop in 2016. The workshop will take place in Paris, at the Norwegian University Centre, 10-12 April 2016. 

HAS has also started planning an international conference that will take place 23 and 24 January 2017. The funds received from SAMKUL and the HSL Faculty will be used to fund the conference. The conference is called "Patient stories in Context" and will be discussed at the workshop.

Workshop in Lund 

Katarina Bernhardsson, Camilla Asplund, Niclas Hagen, Kristoffer Hansson, Johanna Rivano Eckerdal and Anna Tunlid at Lund University arrange the workshop "Medical humanities: Exploring advantages and disadvantages in an emerging interdisciplinary field" 8 October from 10.00-16.00. The workshop is a collaboration between Medical Humanities Seminar, the Nordic Network for Health Research within Social Sciences and the Faculty of Humanities.

Narrative Matters, conference in Canada 2016

The conferencen takes place 20-23 June 2016 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada and is hosted by University of Victoria and Royal Roads University. The conference is interdisciplinary, and the 2016 topic is: "How narrative research transform peoples and communities".


Guest lecture at HAS by Katarina Bernhardsson 2016

Monday 5 December 13.15-15.00 at room E-0101, Dr. Katarina Bernhardsson from Lund Universitet will be giving the guest lecture «Medisinsk humaniora. Fortellingens kraft og humanioras nytte» ('Medical humanities. The power of literature and the humanities' value'). 




Katarina Bernhardsson is a literary scholar and lecturer in medical humanities at Lunds universitet in Sweden. Her PhD thesis from 2010 is entitled Litterära besvär – skildringar av sjukdom i samtida svensk prosa. Katarina Bernhardsson is a member of the research group Health, Art and Society (HAS) at the HSL Faculty.





News 2015-2014

HAS as guesteditors of Tidsskrift for Forskning i Sygdom og Samfund nr. 31/2019

In 2018, HAS invited Professor Petter Aaslestad and 22 researchers to the Centre Universitaire de Norvége à Paris (CUNP) in Paris to elaborate on the subject of the patient role within literature, medicine and social science.

In October 2019 fifteen papers from the symposium were published. You may read the whole journal free of charge here