Centre for Research in Creative and Performing Arts

Jackie Cassell

I am Director of Research and Knowledge exchange at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. The medical school is collaborative, not only between different departments but between Brighton University and the University of Sussex. It has a very arts-literate undergraduate student body as a result of the student-selected components of their degrees, which are taught by people from outside the medical school. For example, one researcher has just handed in his doctorate on images of childhood in literature, including work on the perception of the child within medical practice.

Currently we are working on a project around fostering conversations on scabies in care homes, trying to understand how infections can spread and last so long, why it is often poorly diagnosed and issues around dealing with the added vulnerabilities of patients who might be suffering from dementia. Through this, the School has been working with researchers on medieval literature around ideas of pilgrimage and medieval conceptions of death as well as how leprosy hospitals dealt with issues of untouchability and stigma. This work will be used to create some installation and written work as well as feeding back into research within the school itself. Alongside this is the creation of a textile piece from Brighton University in the form of a garment that is designed to simulate the itchiness of scabies on the inside and to represent the appearance of the condition on the outside. This work is invaluable in finding ways to get conversations going about difficult or sensitive subjects in medical practice.

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