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We are very excited to announce the Narrative Practices Lab, which will be launched in September 2023 as part of Durham's Discovery Research Platform for Medical Humanities.

Led by Laura Mazzoli Smith and Veronica Heney, the Lab will draw together an exciting group of collaborators to explore and develop innovative methodologies and long-term, interdisciplinary, critical approaches to narrative and health.

Narrative is regularly used to depict and help people understand experiences of health and illness.

This Lab hopes to bring together methods which foreground the political and aesthetic complexities of narrative with methods which attend to its functions and effects.

Stories and storytelling practices around health link the personal with the communal or relational and can both reinforce and undermine existing inequalities and power hierarchies.

We will approach narrative both as an imaginative, figurative space and as something with practical, material impacts on peoples’ everyday lives, their wellbeing and care. We will respond to repeated calls for increased clarity and improved scalability in narrative methods and attend to the role of stories and storytelling in navigating between cognitive, medical, social, and cultural facets of lived experience.

This central focus will be explored through three interweaving strands of research on intractable questions of narrative practice. We will: 

  1. Create spaces for new forms of narrative and storytelling about mental health in collaboration with user-led groups and survivor activism.  
  2. Build methodological expertise and foster developments in relation to extant modes of narrative and storytelling, with a focus on de-colonial narrative practice, working with the Black Health and Humanities Network.
  3. Collaborate with Patient Voices to explore large archival holdings of digital health narratives and look at questions concerned with curating and learning from and through these.  

Through an exciting program of workshops, seminars, visiting fellowships, and networks, the Narrative Practices Lab will bring together key collaborators and stakeholders from academia, healthcare, user-led groups, and creative fields.

If you have any questions about the work of the Lab, or are interested in getting involved, please get in touch with Laura Mazzoli Smith and Veronica Heney.

Find out more about the Discovery Research Platform for Medical Humanities.