The Culture, Society and Medicine, Seminar Series, 2017-18 welcomes Laura Salisbury (Exeter University) talking about 'Waiting Times: On Being (a) Patient'.

'Waiting Times: On Being (a) Patient' 

This talk emerges from Wellcome-funded research undertaken by Laura Salisbury (Exeter University) and Lisa Braitser (Birkbeck College) on the philosophical category and phenomenological experience of waiting, particularly as it plays out in healthcare. The talk uses interdisciplinary research to ask what it might mean to be asked to be (a) patient in the contemporary NHS, and in social and historical conditions that increasingly demand waiting, while rendering it intolerable through instrumentalised accounts of service provision and cost-benefit notions of time. Often strung out between urgency and chronicity, patients and health professionals, and the NHS as an institution itself, constantly negotiate and manage waiting. Indeed, concepts of time and timeliness are central to patient-carer interactions, though they frequently remain implicit and under-examined. Using sociological and medical historical literatures on waiting times in the NHS alongside philosophical, critical theoretical and literary accounts of stuck, suspended and impeded time, this paper will ask how the temporality of waiting might be explored and how the experience of waiting in healthcare might be understood as more than simply a synonym for service failure and abandonment. 

Laura Salisbury is an Associate Professor in Medicine and English Literature. She has written widely on literary modernism and in the medical humanities - particularly on relationship between modernism and neurological accounts of language. She is author of Samuel Beckett: Laughing Matters, Comic Timing, and is co-editor of Other Becketts, Neurology and Modernity and Kittler Now. With Lisa Baraitser she is currently beginning a 5 year, Wellcome Collaborative Award on waiting in healthcare. She is based in Exeter’s Wellcome Trust Centre in the Cultures and Environments of Health.


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