Benjamin Gagnon Chainey
Medical Humanities - HEALS Program at Dalhousie University

Visiting scholar at ICLS for the 2022-2023 year.

Benjamin Gagnon Chainey, PT, PhD, is a physical therapist and a postdoctoral fellow at the Medical Humanities – HEALS program at Dalhousie University, in Canada. In early 2022, he completed a PhD in French-language literature, jointly at Université de Montréal (Canada) and Nottingham Trent University (UK), under the co-supervision of Catherine Mavrikakis and Jean-Pierre Boulé. Titled Survivances queers des esthètes: un pas de deux entre Joris-Karl Huysmans et Hervé Guibert (in English: Queer Survivals of the Aesthetes: A Pas de Deux Between Joris-Karl Huysmans and Hervé Guibert), Benjamin’s dissertation conducts several comparative analyses of the embodied experience of illness – namely syphilis, neurosis, and AIDS –, through the diffracting prism of queer aesthetics and phenomenology, in both the symbolist and decadent literature from the end of the nineteenth century, and in the AIDS literature from the end of the twentieth century.

During his PhD years, Benjamin was a contributor to SYNAPSIS: A Health Humanities Journal, co-founded and directed at Columbia University by Arden Hegele, PhD, and Dr Rishi Goyal, MD, PhD.

Benjamin’s current postdoctoral research, supported by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et Culture, is entitled Writing Pain, Mourning and End-of-Life: Analysis, comparison and confrontation of discourses produced by literature and medical humanities. In addition to comparative analysis of various modern and contemporary literary works from France, Québec, the United States and the United Kingdom, Benjamin will conduct creative writing workshops on pain, end-of-life, and death with medical students at Dalhousie University.

Alumnus of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, he is also the coordinator, since 2020, of RéCITS – Réseau de Création International et Transversal sur le Soin (in English: International and Transversal Creative Network on Care), bringing together an international, interdisciplinary and francophone community from several countries, for monthly webinars and creative writing workshops around the roles and importance of creativity and intersectional dialogues in care contexts of all kinds and forms.

He recently co-directed two projects with Léonore Brassard: From Fairies to Wailers: Figures of accompaniment, from cradle to grave, which is the 10th anniversary issue of MuseMedusa, a modern arts and literature journal; and a collection of creative texts written during the first wave of covid-19, that will be published in November 2022 by XYZ Éditions, with the title Récits infectés: Mémoires d’un temps suspend (in English: Infected Stories: Memories of a Suspended Time).

Benjamin will publish his first novel in September 2022, with the Montréal-based publishing house Héliotrope. Entitled Candy, the novel stages a phantasmagorical race against time, illness, and death, of two dreaming lovers, during the 1980s.

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