Literature, Medicine & Medical Humanities Welcome

After advocacy by a several MLA members and the endorsement of others, the organization formally adopted a Medical Humanities and Health Studies Forum in 2015, which presented its first session at the 2016 convention.

Many of us are working on representations of the body, sexuality, health, illness, disease, ethics, and the health professions. Admittedly, the terms “medicine” and  “medical” humanities (a conventional name for this focus) are problematic (as many nursing colleagues will tell you because it connotes a focus on the authority and scope of practice of the physician). The uncritical “medicalizing” of human experience is also the frequent focus of our analysis.

This blog is designed for conversations, queries, and information shared among scholars whose work examines the discourses of the body. It also supports the work of the MLA’s Medical Humanities and Health Studies Forum.

The forum’s executive committee leadership for 2016:

Rebecca Garden, president

Thomas Lawrence Long, secretary

Andrea Charise, member

Erin Lamb, member

Catherine Belling, immediate past president

MLA members who wish to affiliate with the Medical Humanities and Health Studies forum should register on MLA Commons at the forum’s official site:



2 Responses

    JOSEFA ROS VELASCO · July 26, 2018 at 17:39:26 · →

    Dear colleagues,

    I hope this email finds you well. I would like to share with you this CFP of a multidisciplinary Seminar about depression and literature (including philosophical and social approaches) I organize to be held in Washington DC next year, just in case you are interested in participating or can help me with dissemination. Thanks a lot!

    All the best,

    Dr. Josefa Ros Velasco
    Teaching Assistant and Associate in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures (Harvard University).
    Real Colegio Complutense at Harvard Postdoctoral Fellow. /

    The NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) defines depression as a common but serious mood disorder that causes severe symptoms (asthenia, anhedonia, abulia, among many others) that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. The cause is believed to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors and affects approximately 216 million people (3% of the world’s population) mostly ranged from 20 to 30 years old. Nowadays, depression is also known for its many synonyms: clinical depression, MDD (Major Depressive Disorder), unipolar depression, unipolar disorder, depressive episode, and recurrent depressive disorder, to name a few. However, literary expressions gather the many names and faces that shaped this widespread and well-known disorder throughout history, especially when mental health treatises were scarce. Thus, it is common to find the background of modern depression linked to concepts such as the Greeks aegritude (θλίψη, aegritudo) and black bile (μέλαινα χολή, melaina chole), the Latin acedia and taedium vitae, the Renaissance tristitia and melancholia, as well as the modern ennui, spleen, mal de vivre, nausée, noia, Weltschmerz… all of which have been present in the literary works of all times.

    This seminar attempts to bring together specialists and scholars in the topic from a multidisciplinary approach to explore the many literary expressions of depression over time and discuss about their approximations to current, clinical understanding of MDD, i.e., their similarities and differences, taking into account the environmental and psychological factors on which such a mental disorder depends in each historical period. Our goal is to clarify the background of depression by paying attention to its representation through literature and revalue literature itself as a means of acquiring knowledge in an interdisciplinary way.

    Current ACLA guidelines specify that each ACLA member* may submit only ONE PAPER for consideration. Individuals interested in participating in this seminar are encouraged to be in touch with the organizer over the summer; paper submissions through the portal will open Sept. 1 and close Sept. 21. Seminar organizer will review all submitted papers and propose their rosters by October 5th.

    * If your proposal is accepted, you must become an ACLA member ($45-195 USD, depending on your current salary) and register for the Annual Meeting ($35-195 USD, depending on your academic status) to present your paper and receive a certificate. However, you can apply for a very easy to get Travel Grant of $200 USD.

  2. Lynn Kavanagh
    Lynn Kavanagh · December 17, 2012 at 22:15:46 · →

    Hi there,

    Could you please post this call for submissions re: a new book about health education?

    Thanks kindly,

    Lynn Kavanagh, MSc
    Project Coordinator
    Portfolio Course research
    Department of Psychiatry
    Mount Sinai Hospital
    Toronto, Ontario
    416.586.4800 x 8738


    CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS for a book to be published in Fall 2014

    Top Educators Share Their Innovations in Health Professional Education

    To be published by Kent State Press in their Literature and Medicine series
    Editors: Allan Peterkin, MD and Pamela Brett-MacLean, PhD

    Scholars from both clinical and humanities disciplines have linked reflective capacity with key learning goals in clinical education, including fostering empathy, humanism and mindfulness, enhancing narrative and visual competence, challenging the “hidden curriculum” and supporting professional identity formation. Our teaching innovations have necessarily been influenced by our own diverse backgrounds, and for many of us, by unique collaborative relationships we have entered and by what we have learned when we have shared and reflected back on our work. In this volume of short descriptive, readable, personal essays, we look forward to highlighting a broad array of representative methods, processes and themes associated with introducing our learners to the benefits of reflexivity and reflection as they become health professionals.

    We welcome contributions describing various pedagogical approaches, along with your reflections, impressions, obstacles and surprises. We look forward to learning about the difference it may have made – for your learners, and potentially also for your educational institution, and clinical teaching sites. This collection offers an accessible view of our various praxis approaches, and also an opportunity to clarify and further our understanding by thinking with and through our own stories as reflective practice educators.

    Here are some general (but non-prescriptive) guidelines for submission:

    How do you approach reflection in your teaching?

    • Writing (writing prompts/exercises)
    • Use of literature (memoir/poetry/fiction), close reading
    • Theater; performative, embodied reflection
    • Visual reflection (visual art-based workshops, “looking/seeing”); film/video; graphic medicine); dance/movement; music; art exhibits/-performances
    • Humor, comedy
    • Technology (online), social media (YouTube/blogging, etc.)
    • Portfolios; field work assignments

    Which themes do you explore?

    • Professional identity formation
    • Professionalism; the hidden curriculum
    • Uncertainty and ambiguity
    • Clinical error, patient safety
    • Challenging assumptions about gender/class/race/ability/power
    • Clinical/ethical acumen/moral imagination; distress
    • Clinician burnout and wellness; remediation
    • Making sense of simulation technology
    • Naturopathic /complementary and alternate healing
    • Gender and sexuality
    • Architecture/contemplation of physical space
    • Inter-disciplinary exchange/learning
    • Community building; changing cultures of health care education

    Describe your processes:

    • Introducing reflection at different stages of professional development
    • Fear of reflection, defensiveness, resistance, trust, safety
    • Faculty development, mentoring
    • Fostering learning communities in support of reflection; changing learning cultures
    • Silences, challenges, untoward consequences
    • Ethical concerns, practices

    We are seeking submissions from 500-1500 words on how you encourage your students and colleagues to become reflective practitioners.

    How/Where to Submit:
    Please send us your submission as a Word/PDF in the following format:
    • Provide an engaging narrative about how this teaching approach came to you
    • Offer a clear description of your teaching innovation (with sufficient detail which would allow others to adapt/use it)
    • Describe impacts thus far/ future imaginings
    • Describe the clinical/ humanities disciplines informing your approach to teaching reflective practice
    • Provide a three line bio

    Where indicated, include:
    • Appropriate authorization for reprinting of text/images and sample student excerpts should be obtained.
    • A “top three” list of references/publications/web links/resources if available

    Send your submission to: by March 31st 2013

    Decisions regarding submissions will be communicated by July 15, 2013.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.

Skip to toolbar