Acclaimed playwright and cultural critic, Jane Taylor, discusses the historical and psychological significance of organ donation at the inaugural Medical Humanities lecture on Thursday 25 July 2013. Presented by the University of Cape Town’s Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts (GIPCA) and Department of Social Anthropology, these new weekly public lectures will take place in the Anatomy Lecture Theatre, UCT Hiddingh Campus.

Convened by Susan Levine (Department of Social Anthropology, UCT) and Steve Reid (Primary Health Care Directorate, UCT), the Medical Humanities lecture series will speak to the growing interdisciplinary field of medical humanities, which includes the social sciences and the arts, in pursuit of intellectual synergies and their application to medical pedagogy and practice. This public lecture series will also serve as a precursor to the introduction of a new course for 2014, Medicine and the Arts, by the School of African and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of Cape Town.

Jane Taylor has over the past decades had an abiding interest in the ways that human communities are tied together through the circulation of commodities, from the exchange of letters to the donation of vital organs. Her novel, The Transplant Men, (Jacana, 2009) evokes the politics and culture of the 1960s in South Africa, in an exploration of the globally hailed  “first human heart transplant”.

In this inaugural lecture, Donation: the give and take of human organs, Taylor will give a reading of selections from the novel, also incorporating an exploration of the events and meanings of the heart transplant as they became evident at the time, and what they have come to signify in the twenty-first century. The discussion will consider the world-historical events of 1967, and raise questions about what the transplant has asserted about our physical and our metaphysical selves.

Jane Taylor is a visiting Professor at the University of Chicago, Mellon Research Advisor at the Centre for Humanities Research (University of the Western Cape), and a member of the Board of Handspring Puppet Company. She is a published novelist and playwright, curator and cultural critic.  Taylor has been a Visiting Fellow at Oxford and at Cambridge Universities in the UK, and has been recipient of Mellon and Rockefeller Fellowships. She has recently been appointed Wole Soyinka Chair of Theatre at University of Leeds.

This event will take place on Thursday 25 July 2013 at 17:30 in the Anatomy Lecture Theatre, Old Medical School Building, University of Cape Town (UCT) Hiddingh Campus, Orange Street, Cape Town, and is free. Refreshments will be served from 17:00; no booking is necessary.

Forthcoming speakers in the Medical Humanities public lecture series include prominent researchers from a range of disciplines: Raj Ramesar, head of the Division of Human Genetics, UCT; Catherine Burns, WITS Institute for Social and Economic Research; neuropsychologist and psychoanalyst Mark Solms, head of the Department of Psychology, UCT; Elelwani Ramugondo, head of the Division of Occupational Therapy, UCT; and Lorna Martin, head of the Division of Forensic Medicine, UCT. For more information on the Medical Humanities series, contact the GIPCA office on 021 480 7156 or

Jane Taylor audio recording available for download.

Start: 25 Jul ’13 5:30 pm

End: 25 Jul ’13 6:30 pm

Cost: Free


Organizer: GIPCA


Venue: Anatomy Lecture Theatre

Phone: +27 21 480 7156

Address: 31-37 Orange Street, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa