Twin Studies

Back in September, I found myself in a small community just outside of Ithaca, NY, in the company of several colleagues from Cornell. We were there to participate in community’s annual “Fun Run.” I use the term “fun” here with some reservations, defining it provisionally and according to terminology that was current when I ran... Continue Reading →

Hypochondria and the Struggle for Control

Sneha Mantri One of the best-known literary depictions of hypochondria is Molière’s medical play, Le Malade imaginaire, which is occupied with the struggle for power between Argan, the titular “invalid,” and those who surround him. One reading of Argan focuses on his victimhood, arguing that the character believes so completely in his own illness that... Continue Reading →

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... Continue Reading →

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... Continue Reading →

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... Continue Reading →

The Suffering Caregiver

  Benjamin Gagnon Chainey ‘Is the experience of pain preferable to the anihilation of experience?[1]’ Hervé Guibert, Le mausolée des amants The question posed by Hervé Guibert, a French writer who died in 1991, while he was HIV-positive at the apex of the Western AIDS epidemic, resounds from the darkest areas of his terminal phase.... Continue Reading →

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