Research Workshops

The network is committed to organising a series of research workshops that will expand our understanding of issues relating to experiences of life-limiting illness and well-being. Information about these workshops will be located on this page.

Chronic Illness and Well-Being

University of Liverpool, 10th June 2013

Foresight Centre, University of Liverpol

9.30 am – 6.30 pm

Our second research event will tackle the problem of how to map well-being during life-limiting illness: How is the sense of ‘who I am’ unsettled during life-limiting illness? What is the relationship between remorse, loss, guilt, shame, and fear to life-limiting illness? How can we accommodate new identities, bodily shapes and somatic capacities at this time? Does chronic illness fit with the current disability model? Is chronic illness a relational or social condition?

This workshop aims to attract a mixture of scholars and clinicians and will be open to the general public.

Arthur W Frank – acclaimed author of At the Will of the Body (1991, new edition 2002)The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics (1995); and The Renewal of Generosity: Illness, Medicine, and How to Live (2004)  – will give the plenary lecture , ‘Ways to Hope, Seeing Beauty.’

Claire Colebrook  will open the event with her paper ‘Learning to Die, Finally.’  Claire is Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University and the author of Milton, Evil and Literary History (Continuum 2008), Deleuze and the Meaning of Life (Continuum 2010), and William Blake and Digital Aesthetics (Continuum 2011).

Liz Bentley, ‘sit-down comedienne’, will entertain us with poetry, music and stories.

There will be three panel sessions on broad-ranging and multi-disciplinary topics including: the phenomenology of illness; reading and chronic pain; creative embodiment and politics; dementia and well-being.

Registration for this event is now open.  Full programme available here

Registration is free and will include lunch and refreshments, but please email to reserve a place.


Thinking About Dying?

University of Liverpool, Foresight Centre, 29 June 2012, 10.00-16.00

Is it possible to improve the subjective well-being of people with life-limiting illnesses and can we affirm life right up to death?

In what ways can cultures (which includes medical discourse and practice but also ways of life, art and popular culture) cultivate habits of mind and body that enable people to cope with (and possibly overcome) the feelings of loss and suffering that such illnesses may engender?

These difficult questions were explored in a sensitive but compelling fashion by scholars at the Thinking about Dying? Research Workshop at the University of Liverpool.

Organised by the New Thinking on ‘Living with Dying’ Research Network, a collection of academics mainly from Philosophy but also healthcare backgrounds, Thinking about Dying? provided a range of perspectives and approaches to considering a most troubling yet fundamental issue facing human beings – our own mortality. As contributors demonstrated, considering issues of ‘living with dying’ involves confronting our understandings and assumptions of what ‘life’ and ‘living’ are. For, as Chris Bartley (an expert on Buddhist and Hindu ways of thinking about death) illustrated these understandings are culturally inflected and variable. However, facing these understandings also inevitably involves dealing with notions of self-identity; the body and the changes it may go through; as well as relationships with others. Indeed, even voicing or presenting issues relating to life-limiting illness can be a formidable challenge (whether for a doctor or the person experiencing illness) because there may be much that is irreducible to mere words. In the light of such challenges, contributors discussed a variety of modes that may be suitable for elucidating experiences of ‘living with dying’ – from documentary film to narrative – but also acknowledged that there are powerful ethical issues that are involved with the communication of such experiences.

Ultimately the ‘Living with Dying’ workshop raised a range of significant questions that Network members have only barely scratched the surface of. Through a continuing series of events and the development of projects it is hoped that, even if the questions can never be fully answered, the New Thinking on ‘Living with Dying’ Network will be at the forefront in confronting issues that are becoming increasingly urgent in societies where life expectancy is changing. Click here to go to film-maker and workshop contributor Amy Hardie’s review of the Thinking about Dying? event.

For its next event the Network will be working with DaDaFest 2012 (Disability and Deaf Arts Festival) in order to stage Changing Capacities: Changing Identities. This will be a vibrant public event that will feature presentations and performances from artists and academics that will interrogate established notions of ‘normal’ bodies and explore issues relating to bodily changes that are the result of illness or ‘disability’. See our public events page for updates on this event and also visit for information on how to obtain tickets.