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Making by writing

written by Anna Harris
14/06/19

MONTREAL, 23rd May 2019 – In May and June this year I had the opportunity to return to Canada, and the beautiful city of Montreal, for a short research visit as part of the Making Clinical Sense project. Montreal is home to so many fantastic research groups that relate to our work – the Centre for Sensory Studies at Concordia University, a hub of sensory research in the world; the SenseLab, also at Concordia; and the Department of Social Studies of Medicine at McGill to name a few.

Many of these places I visited fresh from my Masters in medical anthropology, as I worked as a research assistant in the city. One of those meetings which helped steer the course of my research was with the anthropologist David Howes at the Centre for Sensory Studies. So what a pleasure it was to be able to return and meet with David Howes again and give a talk about Making Clinical Sense and my upcoming book with this inspiring group of researchers (details of the talk below, also supported by the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture). Many inspiring conversations and hopefully future collaborations.

Illustration by Anna Harris

Writing by making: experiments in how to write a book on learning sensory knowledge

By the time I visit Montreal I will hopefully have completed a manuscript for my new book project called A Sensory Education. This book takes a close look at how sensory awareness is learned and taught in expert and everyday settings around the world. My ethnographic examples vary from the medical schools where I spend a lot of time in, studying how doctors train their sensory skills of diagnosis, to cookbooks and IKEA instructions. The central message of the book is that sensing is not innate or acquired, but evolves through learning that is shaped through social and material relations. In particular the book looks at the work that goes into sensory education, including vocabularies, lesson-set ups, the design of instructions and the role of industry.

Much of this will not be new to many in the audience. What I would like to explore in this talk is the process of writing the book – a process that involved not only studying instruction but also making and designing educational materials too. As I want the reader to not only read about but also work through sensory instructions, the book has elements of a “how-to” format, which meant I needed to experiment a lot with the instructions myself. For example, as I wrote about the teaching tools in Maastricht, the Netherlands, I knitted a uterus. I made a 19th century instrument to measure the blueness of the sky when writing about learning sensory vocabulary, then tried to make a YouTube instructional video of the process. I included instructions on how to make these materials in the book and want to explore in the talk the possibilities and limitations of this kind of material thinking, another challenging aspect of what it means to write sensorially.

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Multimedia

Workshopping videos (1/6): Napkins

by Anna Harris
November 11, 2019
Inspiration

Movement Interview for Museum Motus Mori

by Andrea Wojcik
November 6, 2019
Event

Place and Affect: From Semmelweis to Soeterbeeck

by Rachel Allison
September 11, 2019

A life in speculum

by Sally Wyatt
August 12, 2019
Inspiration

Repetition in ethnographic writing

by Andrea Wojcik
August 2, 2019
Publication

Food for thought in medical training

by Anna Harris
July 31, 2019
Conference

The Body and the Built Environment

by John Nott
July 9, 2019
Event

Material thinking workshop

by Anna Harris
June 26, 2019
Event

Anthropology in medical education

by Anna Harris
June 24, 2019
Event

Making by writing

by Anna Harris
June 14, 2019
Event

Introduction to perfumery

by Rachel Allison
May 17, 2019
Inspiration

Practicing music skills

by Carla Greubel
May 16, 2019
Inspiration

Lost in translation, and in space

by John Nott
March 27, 2019
Event

Time for tinkering

by Anna Harris
February 21, 2019
Event

How smart is “smart” technology?

by Andrea Wojcik
January 11, 2019
Materials

Tools of the teaching trade

by Sally Wyatt
January 10, 2019
Materials

Christmas yarn

by Anna Harris
December 24, 2018
Multimedia

Cooking classes

by Anna Harris
November 26, 2018
Inspiration

Barefeet

by Anna Harris
October 21, 2018
Inspiration

Letterheads

by Anna Harris
September 26, 2018
Inspiration

Postcards

by Anna Harris
September 16, 2018
Materials

Wax museum

by Rachel Allison
August 6, 2018
Publication

Expressive instructions

by Anna Harris
July 31, 2018
Inspiration

Writing resources

by Rachel Allison
July 23, 2018
Event

Meaning and beauty

by Rachel Allison
July 20, 2018
Conference

Correspondence

by Anna Harris
July 16, 2018
Materials

The allure of the archives

by John Nott
June 28, 2018
Event

Methods workshop at UDS

by Andrea Wojcik
May 23, 2018
Event

Probes

by Anna Harris
May 16, 2018
Article

Tricks

by Anna Harris
April 27, 2018
Writing workshop

Beyond the elevator

by Anna Harris
April 6, 2018
Conference

Simulating touch

by Anna Harris
March 27, 2018
Conference

Dancing, moving, unsettling

by Anna Harris
March 9, 2018
Event

Skillshare Writing Workshop

by Rachel Allison
February 25, 2018
Conference

STS in/on Africa

by John Nott
February 19, 2018
Article

A month together

February 8, 2018
Event

Comparison as method

by Anna Harris
February 6, 2018
Publication

Working with bias

by Anna Harris
January 19, 2018
Inspiration

Holiday reading

by Anna Harris
January 3, 2018
Materials

Modelling movement in medical education

by Andrea Wojcik
December 13, 2017
Conference

Embroider meet surgeon

by Anna Harris
October 30, 2017
Event

Sensing with medical students

by Anna Harris
October 9, 2017
Materials

Pagers

by Anna Harris
September 13, 2017

We are hiring!

September 5, 2017
Event

TransPositions Summer School 2017

September 4, 2017
Conference

Ethnographic Experimentation #Colleex

by Rachel Allison
August 7, 2017
Event

Making an omelette

by Sally Wyatt
July 21, 2017
Materials

Tuning forks and electronics

by Sally Wyatt
May 12, 2017
Event

Drawing Instruments

by Rachel Allison
March 20, 2017
Article

Experimenting with collaborative sensory ethnography

by Andrea Wojcik
March 16, 2017
Conference

A sensory training workshop

by Anna Harris
August 29, 2016
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