On Interdisciplinarity; or, a Response

Following my review of Sari Altschuler’s The Medical Imagination, I wanted to continue thinking through larger questions about our interdisciplinary field and what it does. My post today responds to a recent article by Peter Salovey published in Scientific American’s June 2018 issue: “We Should Teach All Students, in Every Discipline, to Think Like Scientists.”[1]…

Cultivating “Epistemological Humility”: How to Reimagine the Medical Humanities

Sari Altschuler. The Medical Imagination: Literature and Health in the Early United States. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018. Travis Chi Wing Lau // In The Age of Analogy: Science and Literature Between the Darwins (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016), Devin Griffiths defined the field of science and literature in terms of its “central object”:…

Lisa Halliday’s “Asymmetry”: A Misreading

Anna Fenton-Hathaway Despite its title, Asymmetry comprises two seemingly unrelated sections of equal length, appended by a slim and quietly shocking coda. – Alice Gregory, New York Times review (2018) Gregory’s phrase “shocking coda”—and her “seemingly,” I suppose—has ruined me for this book. I am reading like a doctor.

The Limits of Empathy (Part One: Selective Empathy)

A significant drive behind the disciplines of the Medical Humanities, the practice of Narrative Medicine, and the comics-based field and genre of Graphic Medicine, has been a focus on empathy. These fields have seen a need to emphasise empathy in medical training and practice in order to get away from the often depersonalizing and disciplinary…

Bad Readers or Bad Sci-Fi?

Anna Fenton-Hathaway 1. A recent lunch conversation skittered around awhile before landing, not atypically these days, on how we should all be preparing for the AI apocalypse.

My Graphic Medicine Journey (Part Three)

The life course being a journey with various obstacles to overcome, and lessons to be learned, is a prevalent metaphor that has achieved almost mythic status. The anthropologist Ronald Grimes claims that ‘we do not escape metaphors, myths, and rituals; we only change them’ (146). Over the course of my previous two posts (Part 1,…

Disorientations: On Disability in Graduate School

Sara Ahmed, in Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others (2006), asks what it means to be orientated. By thinking through sexuality in terms of lived, embodied experience, Ahmed challenges us to think about how queer bodies occupy space and time. She writes that “if orientation is a matter of how we reside in space, then sexual…

“Those Are the Terms”

Anna Fenton-Hathaway When Ursula Le Guin’s 1973 “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” appears on a Science Fiction and Bioethics syllabus, what should medical students think? First, they might reasonably ask, is this even science fiction? bioethics?

My Graphic Medicine Journey (Part Two)

Referencing Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, the first part of this post discussed humanity’s predisposition towards metaphors of journey and quest, and the possible application (as well as troubling) of these metaphors, against my own experience of chronic illness, academia, and comics.

What Does Defamiliarization Make Happen?

Anna Fenton-Hathaway I learned the literary term “defamiliarization” years after it had upended a tiny part of my worldview. Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty (1877), narrated by the horse of the title, was the vehicle for that early upending. One particularly heart-rending chapter meant that for years I could not look at a horse without being…

My Graphic Medicine Journey (Part One)

  The idea that life is a journey made up of different stages is one that has appeared across time, in different cultures and media. It is a concept that is ingrained in our collective psyches, and cannot be escaped, being present in the way we choose to live, think, and speak about our lives.