Literature and Medicine: Corpus, Theory, Praxis


Course Title

Literature and Medicine: Corpus, Theory, Praxis

Course Description

This seminar is a critical introduction to the interdisciplinary field of literature and medicine: its key texts and issues, current conceptual frameworks, and contemporary scenes of practice. We will consider the basics of illness narratives (including thematics like pain, ethics, and the medical encounter), alongside distinctive formal conventions and genres (like memoir and creative nonfiction, physician writing, lyric, speculative fiction). We will also consider the implications of the past two decades' enthusiastic uptake of literary concepts by the health profession–"narrative" and "close reading" especially–for the purposes of enhancing clinical competencies like compassion, empathy, and the "humanizing" of medicine. How might we, as scholars of literary studies, better theorize the emergence of literary sensibilities in the twenty-first century clinic? Why would the deployment of literary concepts, tools, and methods constitute such a fraught moment in the historical debate regarding the value of the humanities? This seminar's deliberate interweaving of literary writings with theoretical texts is intended to complement our ongoing consideration of praxis as it regards literature and medicine.

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Disciplinary Perspectives

Geographic Location

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Literature and Medicine: Corpus, Theory, Praxis