Speculative bodies of the present in hormonal fictions

Kathryn Cai Recently, a series of English language novels that foreground the female body reimagine and transform their hormonal traffic from biologies linked with environmental illness to speculative imaginations of diffused, inchoate influence and overt physical and political power. As studies note, the female body’s hormonal complexities render its porous interactions with the environment particularly…

Oral History and the Physician-Patient Relationship

John A. Carranza  There has been much criticism about the time that physicians spend with patients in an average visit. Physicians simply do not have enough time to fully interact with their patients. Couple this with the rising demand for doctors to enter patient information and complaints into databases, and the patient suffers. While this…

Breaking Through Trauma with Creative Writing and Bibliotherapy

What benefits might be found in writing about experiences of trauma? Alternatively, what might be the effect of reading about somebody else’s experiences? In my October and November posts, I explored aspects of the medical and rehabilitative object-human relationships in Harry Parker’s novel Anatomy of a Soldier. Although a work of fiction, Parker’s novel is semi-autobiographical….

Stability and Care: Establishing the Santa Rosa Infirmary in a Frontier City

By 1866, the Civil War had ended in the United States, and the country underwent a turbulent period of transformation known as Reconstruction. Presidential and Congressional Reconstruction set the terms for the South’s readmission into the Union, which included among its requirements: oaths of loyalty, inclusion of African Americans in politics, and the creation of…

The Criminal Mind: Discourses of Mental Health and Crime, Part 2.

Abigail Jane Mack I began Part 1 of this series with the image I reproduce here. Item number 1552 rests against a stark black background. Gray, veiny matter folds in on itself, cleaving in distinctive left and right lobes. The brain appears as an organ and an icon. Below, in stark lettering, “criminal.” An indelible…

Metaphors in Medicine

Charlene Kotei Communication is one of humanity’s oldest and most sophisticated technologies. Narrative is an integral part of the day-to-day transmission of ideas between people. In the medical world, technological and scientific advances have likewise made tremendous advances. And yet, the medical field still lacks the key to success: the effective interpretation of narrative. To…

Indigenous Poetics and Narrative Medicine

What exactly is narrative medicine, and how is it different from the work of humanities scholars who investigate medical topics? With this problem in mind, I set out to explore the roots of narrative medicine–not in academic medical schools, but in North American indigenous practices of healing through ritual storytelling. In our moment, narrative medicine…

Edward Said’s Migratory End-of-Life Aesthetics

Bassam Sidiki In his influential work The Wounded Storyteller (1995), sociologist Arthur W. Frank makes a move that has been largely undertheorized: the application of postcolonial theory to illness narratives. “Just as political and economic colonialism took over geographic areas,” he writes, “modernist medicine claimed the body of the patients as its territory, at least…