27th October – 3rd November Melanie Boeckmann

Climate change, social justice, feminism and fiction writing: these humanities get everywhere.  We the Humanities will be home to German researcher @m_boeckmann, who’ll be discussing the humanities in relation to her own field of public health.  There are plenty of links below to get you going and Melanie’s especially interested in hearing what you’ve got to say about interdisciplinary engagements with climate change adaptation and the stories we tell about ourselves online.

Hi everyone! My name is Melanie (@m_boeckmann), and I’m excited about curating We The Humanities!

I’ve been following the account to satiate my intense homesickness for the humanities. I have a master’s degree in British Studies with minors in American and African Studies, and then I changed direction and pursued an additional degree in Public Health. Now I am a PhD candidate in Public Health at the University of Bremen in Germany, working on the “problem” of evaluation in climate change adaptation. Public health is an interdisciplinary subject, and my dissertation is mixed methods with quantitative components but also philosophical musings about causality and its limits. I greatly enjoy that my field not only lends itself to transdisciplinary research but is also steeped in social justice concerns (Gostin & Powers, 2006). Recently I have become more and more interested in climate justice and would like to discuss the humanities’ activist potential, not necessarily related to climate change but broadly speaking. Do you see a need for your discipline to step up? Or do you have any stories of your or your institution’s involvement you’d like to share?

Speaking about actions: I am an outspoken feminist and have worked for the local women’s health center for many years. We The Humanities curators frequently position themselves as feminist, which I love and appreciate. Together with a colleague (who has just presented our work at the UK Feminist and Women’s Studies Association 2014 conference in Bristol I am writing an article on peer support in academia and its activist potential. I remember being impressed with Mimi Thi Nguyen’s writings in the punk fanzine Maximum Rock’N Roll when I first got into riot grrrl, her academic work is an inspiration to me. I might even get a little fangirl-ish when talking about her writings, so be prepared!

I am also a published short story writer, and have a second twitter account where I am all writerly: @m_ian. As you can already see from the separate twitter accounts, so far I have been keeping my fiction writer persona and my academia persona as far apart from each other as possible. But is that even necessary? How do you deal with the “serious” requirements as you progress in your academic career? Especially those of you in interdisciplinary fields (but I am interested in all views!): is there any part of you that you prefer to not put in the spotlight as much? I’d love to hear!

During my curation week I’ll also be tweeting about narratives in health and medical sciences, about medical humanities. I’d love to discuss with you the role of your own narrative identity in your (online) writing, and in stories generally. I have just started coaching undergraduates early in their academic writing career here at the university, and I am always looking for exchange and input on teaching and learning about writing. I guess that is the bottom line here: Stories! Tell me yours!


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