Birkbeck Medical Humanities Reading Group Events 11 November and 9 December

Wednesday 11 November: Therapeutic Aims

Please note that this session will be held at the Wellcome Library, Euston Road, between 3-4.30. Please come to the Library entrance reception on level 2

In June 2015 the Birkbeck Centre for Medical Humanities hosted a screening of Abandoned Goods, a short essay film detailing the extraordinary collection of artworks created by patients detained in Netherne psychiatric hospital between 1946 and 1981. The artworks were created in a pioneering art studio in the hospital run by the artist Edward Adamson. Today around 5,500 pieces survive, assembled together as the Adamson Collection, one of the major bodies of British ‘asylum art’, now held at the Wellcome Trust and the Maudsley Charity. Adamson’s studio will be the springboard for our discussion.

Set texts:

  • Extracts from Edward Adamson, Art as Healing (London, Coventure, 1984);
  • David O’Flynn, ‘Art as Healing: Edward Adamson’
  • Susan Hogan, ‘British Art-therapy pioneer Edward Adamson: a non-interventionist approach’, History of Psychiatry (2000) 11.43, 259-271

Online link to images from the collection are on the Wellcome’s website: and South London and Maudsley Trust:

If you would like access to the film Abandoned Goods (approximately 37 minutes long) prior to the session please do get in touch.

More information is available on our webpage, along with details of past reading.

Please note the next session will be held at the Keynes Library, Birkbeck on Wednesday 9 December, between 3.30-5. We will send a reminder nearer the time.

The reading group aims to create a space in which academics, clinicians and students can come together to explore key readings, ideas and materials in the field of medical humanities. Our endeavour is to find ways of talking across the different disciplines of the humanities and medicine, and we welcome participation from colleagues interested and engaged in these areas.

For further details, and copies of the set texts, please contact Heather Tilley ( and Suzannah Biernoff (