ZEIST, August 21st – August 25th – At the end of August, Andrea and Rachel had the privilege of attending TransPositions Summer School 2017: Sensible Objects, Material Engagements, Skilled Expertise, in Zeist, the Netherlands.
This edition of the TransPositions Summer School focused on material culture and the senses. Building on scholarship that centers materials, the organisers of the five day workshop invited participants to contribute to critical interdisciplinary discussions, moving beyond the questions “Why materials?“ or “Why things?“ and exploring how we can become more perceptive to materials and sensible objects. This area of inquiry was both timely and relevant as relates to the ethnographic fieldwork for the Making Clinical Sense project and our team’s investigations into the implications of material technologies in novice physicians’ acquisition of the skills of physical examination.
Hosted by Utrecht University’s ARTECHNE project, the summer school hosted four distinguished keynote speakers; Ulinka Rublack (Cambridge Universuty), Lambros Malafouris (Oxford University), Rachel Prentice (Cornell University), and Shigehisa Kuriyama (Harvard University).
The research of Rachel Prentice – a member of Making Clinical Senses’ external advisory committee – has been a vital resource to both Andrea and Rachel in their initial explorations within this project, overlapping both thematically (that is, medical education and the use of pedagogical technologies) and as regards the theoretical focuses of embodiment and skill acquisition. To have the opportunity to meet and directly learn from Prentice in the intimate and collaborative environment of a summer school was an invaluable learning experience for Rachel and Andrea, and they enthusiastically welcomed the opportunity to discuss her contemporary work and to think about ways in which I might further employ her expertise within their research.
Over the course of the week, the keynote presentations and text-based discussions revolved around sensory experience, past material culture, bodily practices and techniques, and the sensual and performative aspects of material culture. Beyond this, the summer school had many hands-on workshops including, for instance, ‘historical ink making’ and ‘up-cycling,’ where participants were given the opportunity to actively engage with the material of our inquiry.
Many thanks to the organisers for an inspiring, thought provoking, and fun end to the summer.
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