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Fluid Physicalities

Fluid Physicalities is a series of lectures and a conference organised by Professors Anthony Bale (Medieval Studies) and Esther Leslie (Political Aesthetics), with support from Wellcome ISSF.  It explores the cultural representation and mediation of bodily fluids. An interdisciplinary project, emerging out of Leslie's current research on breast milk and Bale's recent work on blood, it speaks to a broad conception of embodiment that lies at the interface of culture and medical knowledge. It mobilizes a variety of analytic modes from literature and humanities, the sciences and social sciences, art practice and other modes, in order to explore fluids that are intimate to each of us, but sometimes alienated from us by cultural taboos or by emotions such as disgust. The research makes links to questions of health and well-being, disease and biomedical exploration across historical and contemporary settings. It focuses its explorations on human practices and thinking, but also draws on cross-species and animal practices. Participating scholars bring a range of interdisciplinary knowledge to the project and audiences are encouraged to think about the connections and interactions in how these different fluids are perceived and conceived culturally and historically.

Fluid Physicalities complements the exhibition Blood: Reflections on what Unites and Divides Us at the Jewish Museum London (5 November 2015 - 28 February 2016). This exhibition was informed by research undertaken by Professor Bale and was developed in collaboration with Professor David Feldman and the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism. Professors Bale and Feldman were academic advisers on the exhibition. Bale and Feldman co-edited the book Blood: Uniting and Dividing and Bale has recently written an essay on blood in Bram Stoker's Dracula which will be in The Cambridge Companion to Dracula, ed.  Roger Luckhurst (Cambridge University Press, 2017). The exhibition is travelling to Warsaw and then Cracow in 2017 and 2018.