Pain, illness and incapacity may be bodily phenomena experienced by each of us individually, but how is medical treatment shaped by social and cultural factors? And are there broader consequences when we define some suffering as bearable, some illnesses as purely mental, and certain diseases as ‘a fight’ that a nation should put its shoulder behind? Guest curator Rebecca Giggs explores the issues with writers Anne Boyer (The Undying), Gabrielle Jackson (Pain and Prejudice) and Dr Karen Hitchcock (The Medicine).

Anne Boyer (International)

Anne Boyer

Anne Boyer is a poet and essayist. Her books include Garments Against Women, A Handbook of Disappointed Fate and The Undying, a memoir about cancer and care. Her honours include the 2018 Cy Twombly Award for Poetry from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, a 2018 Whiting Award, the 2018–2019 Judith E. Wilson poetry fellowship at the University of Cambridge, and the 2016 CLMP Firecracker Award for Garments Against Women. Anne is an Assistant Professor of the Liberal Arts at the Kansas City Art Institute.

Karen Hitchcock (Australian)

Karen Hitchcock

Dr Karen Hitchcock is a physician and authorised prescriber of medicinal cannabis. She writes for The Monthly. Her Quarterly Essay Dear Life: On caring for the elderly was republished as an expanded edition book in 2016. Her collection of short fiction Little White Slips won the 2010 Queensland Premier's Steele Rudd award. She holds a PhD in English. Her new book is The Medicine: A Doctor's Notes.

Gabrielle Jackson (Australian)

Gabrielle Jackson

Gabrielle Jackson is the author of Pain and Prejudice: A call to arms for women and their bodies. She is an Associate News Editor for Guardian Australia and was previously opinion editor there. She has worked as a journalist and writer in Australia, the UK and USA. She won the 2016 National Medicinewise Award for excellence in health reporting for her work on endometriosis.

Rebecca Giggs (Australian)

Rebecca Giggs

Rebecca Giggs is a writer from Perth, Australia. Her work has appeared in Granta, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, Best Australian Essays, Best Australian Science Writing and other publications. Her first book is Fathoms: the world in the whale.