Our new Students Reflect on MedHums series showcases creative portfolios assembled by students on the MSc in Medical Humanities during the academic years 2013/14 and 2014/15. The journals and portfolios were part of the assessment for the semester 1 module Major Themes in Medial Humanities, led by Sarah Collins and Carsten Timmermann.
We begin with Alice Ryrie, whose artwork, journal and comments demonstrate how creative coursework can lead to fascinating new insights and a deeper understanding of themes in Medical Humanities.
Alice shared her thoughts on writing a journal for the course:
Being given the opportunity to write a journal was for all of us an exciting, yet slightly daunting task. The journal was a chance to try something a bit different and document thoughts, inspirations and creative ideas with a clear set of aims and framework to focus on.
Some of the ideas I started putting together over Christmas break were articles inspired by newspaper stories or the lives of artists and patients, and others were drawings or pieces of creative writing. At first none of them seemed to fit together, but soon subtle themes began emerging that connected some of the pieces – for example, using metaphors or imagery to create comparisons or humour between medical and non-medical subjects. This really helped to reveal what interested me and went on to inform my dissertation that year.
However, there were challenging parts to creating the journal, too… and not just the mad rush cutting and gluing in things the night before the deadline! In other University assignments I have always felt anonymous: essays are handed in with only a student number marking my identity. But now, I was being assessed not only as myself, but by submitting a piece of work which had grown very personal to me.
This was most obvious on the day we showed each other our work. The six of us sat nervously with our journals, not wanting to be the first to open the cover. However, once we started sharing our ideas, we quickly began to enjoy talking about our journals and appreciating the different styles and themes. I found this day one of the most memorable of our course. We all learned a huge amount from each other, ranging from creative ideas and personal stories to academic papers and book recommendations.
Alice’s journal contains a wide variety of topics, photographs, clippings, reflections, poems, drawings, paintings, quotes, lists, re-writings, collages, illustrations, and analysis. While the examples below are visually compelling in themselves, they are also worth reading in more detail:
The journal offered me a way to explore the diversity of medical humanities whilst discovering about my own interests along the way.
All artwork and images © Alice Ryrie.