On April 8, 2017, Critical Care: Disability Interventions in the Logics of Cure brought together Medical Humanities students and faculty at Rice, with community organizations, and attendees from UT Health, Texas Women's University, and other Houston institutions to rethink the nature of cure, care, and diagnosis in varying contexts of illness and disability. Rather than the usual format of conventional panels, the day featured a roundtable, staged conversations, posters, and a film screening with talk back, all of which emphasized conversation between presenters and as well as attendees.
The opening keynote by noted disability activist and writer Eli Clare offered powerful readings from Clare's new book Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure, and the afternoon keynote with Stanford Anthropologist Lochlann Jain took the form of a conversation with symposium co-organizer Zoë Wool that focused on the ways harm and protection are intertwined with each other in the contexts of cancer and vaccine development.
Lunchtime offerings included a student poster session and a conversation with Rice mechanical engineer Marcia O'Malley and TIRR Occupational Therapist Katherine Nedley about the design, use, and accessibility of prosthetic technologies in therapeutic practice. The bilingual community round table brought together members of disability advocacy organizations for a provocative discussion on the uneven disability landscape in Houston.
The day was an experiment in access, offering ASL and Spanish/English translation, large print copies of the opening keynote, a quiet room for those wanting a break from the stimulation of the day, and accessible bathrooms designated for all genders for the day. In keeping with the interdisciplinary of Medical Humanities, the symposium fostered new collaborations as well as new conversations about the meanings of cure and care across clinical and critical contexts.