Medical Humanities-Conference “Poetry and Medicine”

When being confronted with illness, pain and death, we become aware of the limits of language. At moments when words seem to fail, literature, and especially, poetry may offer an alternative mean of communication, as the specific semantics of the poetic language and the typographical play of black print, enjambments and white space give as a mean to express otherwise unspeakable experiences at least between the lines. Thus, it comes as no surprise that when looking at the long history of poetry one will find hardly any poet who has not also turned to medical topics in her or his literary career. On might just think of poetic expressions of suffering and grieving in the work of Andreas Gryphius (1616–1664), Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926) or Sylvia Plath (1932–1963). The strong appeal between medicine and poetry can also be seen by the example of physician poets like Justinus Kerner (1786–1862) or Gottfried Benn (1886–1956) whose day to day confrontation with human suffering also found its way in the aesthetics of their poetry.


The strong affinity between literature and medicine has always aroused the interest of sciences, particularly when it comes to the various forms of prose. However, the relationship between medicine and poetry still remains to be thoroughly examined. With this in mind, it is the goal of the workshop to promote an interdisciplinary dialogue about the complex correlations between the poetical and medical world.


Organisation: Dr. Katharina Fürholzer, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Florian Steger, Institute of the History, Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine, Ulm University

Sponsored with friendly support by Ulmer Universitäts-Gesellschaft (UUG)

Place: Haus der Stadtgeschichte - Schwörhaus, Weinhof 12, 89073 Ulm

Date: 20.–22.3.2018

Deadline CfP: 10.12.2017

Conference Programme

Poster Lyrik und Medizin
For download one click on the poster
Conference programme Lyrik und Medizin
For download one click on the programme