‘Inspiring Stories’ with Aude Campmas

Lecturer in French Studies, Modern Languages and Linguistics


This is part of the Engaged Medicine ā€˜Inspiring Storiesā€™ blog series. The blogs explore the stories behind outreach and patient-public engagement activities of staff and students from the University of Southamptonā€™s Faculty of Medicine. This month’s edition also features guest blogs from those working at the interface between the humanities, arts and medicine.

What do you do to engage and outreach with the public or patients? 

I created the Southampton Centre for Medical and Health Humanities with Linda Turner and Dr Joan Tumblety. The Centre provides a platform for innovative undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, public engagement, and it engenders research collaboration. We organise a public seminar series to engage with the public on diverse and topical subjects that link Medicine with the Humanities. 

For example, one of our invited speakers for this year, Dr Deborah Madden, will explore everyday subjective experiences and emotional responses to Covid-19 via contemporary oral histories with healthcare workers and palliative care clinicians. Another speaker, Dr Anjuli Raza Kolb, will reveal how anticolonial rebellions and Muslim insurgencies have been represented as virulent forms of social contagion.  

How did you get started with public engagement or patient involvement? 

I started when I was a PhD student in Paris studying the History of Science. At the time I was also volunteering for a charity helping children with their studies and organised a series of conferences with scientists. The idea was to make science accessible to the wider public in an area when this type of activity was extremely rare. To this effect, I worked with the scientists to create accessible papers without jeopardising the quality of the research.  I was also the mediator between the public and the scientists. It was an amazing experience that taught me the importance of outreach activities. 

In our world where misinformation is becoming widespread, it is fundamentally important to create links with the community and for researchers to be able to engage with the public. However, this is not an easy undertaking. As I learnt when I was developing the charity seminar series, it takes time, trust and training. To this effect, as an educator, I have created a new module called ā€˜Disease, Discrimination, and Public Engagementā€™ with Dr Scott Soo. 

Illnesses have frequently been invested with a great deal of symbolic and cultural significance. This interdisciplinary module introduces students to how various diseases and conditions (AIDS, cancers, obesity, Covid-19, and mental health issues and illnesses) can become metaphors for rejection and marginalisation. It analyses the ways in which cultural, medical, political and societal discourses can entwine and impact on the self-representations of the patients.  

As well as exploring disease-related discrimination and its impact on the self, the students will examine anti-discrimination strategies. In order to do so, the students will work with Medical students and put their skills into practice through the development of a socially and politically responsive public engagement project. This can involve posters, exhibitions, educational material for schools, websites, and/or videos. This project will also be developed with input from local charities and schools. 

Stay Connected! To find out more about the ā€˜Inspiring Storiesā€™ series, Faculty of Medicine educational programmes and research, or to get involved use the links below or contact Dr Lucy Green.

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University staff or students click here for the Engaged Medicine SharePoint

‘Inspiring Stories’ with Aude Campmas

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