Narratives of Illness and Healing


Spring 2021

M 7 - 8:30PM, online section of 59.28

This course aims to utilize narrative medicine and the medical humanities as a focal point through which students can gain a deeper understanding of the nuances of health and illness experiences. The medical humanities address the importance of engaging with subjectivities such as experiences, emotions, and attitudes in medicine via arts and humanities disciplines. Engaging with the stories of patients opens the possibility of effectively and compassionately treating patients through an ability to recognize, internalize, and act on the experiences of others. Throughout this course, we will read, discuss, and learn from medical and health-related stories. The course will first explore narrative medicine and the diverse media through which medical narratives are expressed, including literature, graphics, poetry, oral storytelling, video games, and more. We will then examine narratives that illuminate the intersection of medicine and spirituality, gender, race, and culture, followed by narratives exploring mental health, chronic illness, end of life, and more. By the end of the semester, students should be able to think critically about the incorporation and application of storytelling in medicine and articulate the significance of doing so. This course will primarily consist of interactive lectures, group discussion, and guest speakers, including Dr. Deborah Jenson, the co-director of the Health Humanities Lab (HHL), and more.

  • Ishaan Kumar,
  • Nimish Garg, nimish.garg@duke.edudu
  • Deborah Jenson,
Class Limit