A newsletter from the Division of Medical Humanities at NYU Langone Health
July 30, 2021

Stories in the Time of COVID-19

Drs. Arno Kumagai and Jay Baruch examine what stories of COVID-19 reveal about ourselves and our societies, and how we can use these narratives to probe "our discomfort, strengths and weaknesses, and what sets us apart and what brings us together."

Toward a Syllabus for Modern Grieving

What would a syllabus for modern grieving look like? Writer Beth Kissileff offers a "brief, idiosyncratic, and necessarily incomplete list of some books about grief in the hopes that others, in reading, will be able to find some sense of consolation."

Hektoen International

Hektoen International's latest issue features articles on the use of language in health and illness narratives, attitudes towards mask wearing then and now, and pieces touching on the health and history of Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Salvador Dali, and others.

The State of Music-Based Interventions for Mental Illness

How can music support mental health? The International Arts + Mind Lab and One Mind convened a think tank of thought leaders and experts across nine different disciplines to figure out exactly what we know and don’t know—and how to collectively move the field forward.

Highlights from Projects and People in
Humanities and Ethics at NYU Langone Health

New Annotation:
Tony Miksanek on The Ministry of Bodies by Seamus O'Mahony

“[O'Mahony] reflects on vulnerability, paternalism, and uncertainty in the practice of medicine.... This unusual memoir—both blunt and philosophical—contemplates topics deeply relevant to all physicians.”

Using Visual Thinking Strategies to Enhance Interprofessional Education

"What is going on in this image? What do you see that makes you say that? What more can you find?" Hope Torrents discusses the Fine Art of Health Care program she directs at Lowe Art Museum  at the University of Miami, and its benefits to medical students, residents, physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.

Support the Literature, Arts, and Medicine
Database and Magazine

As someone who is interested in Medical Humanities, we hope you will join us in support of the Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database and Magazine. One of the core components of NYU Langone’s Division of Medical Humanities, LitMed is an open access collection of more than 3,000 annotations of works of literature, art, and performing arts that provide insight into the human condition. Please make a gift today. Learn more.

The Burns Archive Photo of the Week

Emergency Iron Lung Ambulance, circa 1937

Death from bulbar poliomyelitis was a frightening prospect for those infected, and total panic ensued as the patient realized he couldn’t breathe or swallow. A good percentage of the victims died within three days even if placed in an iron lung. The prevailing philosophy was, perhaps, that the parents didn’t act quickly enough when their child became ill and that if an iron lung ambulance could be developed it could save lives. The ambulance envisioned would offer early respiratory assistance and would avoid suffocation. The problem was complicated, as bulbar polio also paralyzed the throat muscles used for swallowing. As the secretions could not be controlled, aspiration pneumonia was a frequent cause of death of those in the respirators. The disease primarily attacked infants and young children but in the 1930s young adults also became targets. By the end of the decade, the disease, infantile poliomyelitis, was renamed simply poliomyelitis or polio. When adults contracted the disease they were even more helpless than children. Parents could carry their children to the hospital but ambulances were necessary for the adults. With the creation of an iron lung ambulance, the public could breathe easier.

With thanks to The Burns Archive for providing historic medical photographs and commentary for this weekly feature


Quick Links

Calls for Submission & Other Opportunities

Shame in Medicine: An Audio Documentary Storytelling Series
Shame is everywhere in healthcare, but so taboo that we never talk about it. Now is time to change that. The Nocturnists, in collaboration with the Shame and Medicine Project and The Shame Conversation, is creating an audio documentary storytelling series exploring the subject of shame in medicine, through YOUR stories. Want to share a shame story (or stories)? Sign up before September 1st. More information.

Assistant Professor (tenure track): Rhetoric of Health and Medicine
The Department of English Language and Literatures at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver) invites applications for an appointment in the field of The Rhetoric of Health and Medicine. Applicants must have a PhD or provide solid indication of imminent completion. Applicants should have publications and experience teaching at the post-secondary level; they are expected to provide strong evidence of active and excellent research, and demonstrate a record of, or potential for, high quality teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Applications and all supporting materials should be received by October 1, 2021. More information.


Events & Conferences


SheNYC Arts: Plague Doctor!


Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health

Dr. Leana Wen + Brooke Baldwin

Doctors Without Boundaries


Shakespeare’s Developing Sense of Empathy


Building A Collection: Personal Narratives From The 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic

Sponsored by The New York Academy of Medicine Library

Historical Nonfiction: Research-Based Writing With Hadley Meares

4-week workshop
Section B: Meets Wednesdays beginning August 18
Section C: Meets Sundays beginning September 19

Bibliotherapy & Marginalized Identity: Borders, Boundaries, Crossing Lines


The Art of Death With Tessa Fontaine

This five-part seminar explores notions of death and dying around the world, drawing from biology, history, and beyond. Each 1.5 hour session takes place on consecutive Mondays beginning September 13.

The Mudroom: Guided Creative Workshops for Health Professionals

The Mudroom is a creative and reflective writing workshop for health professionals. Meetings are held monthly and provide a space to write, read, try out exercises in prose and verse, share work and give feedback. The Fall 2021 sessions occur on one Wednesday each month, beginning on September 22.

ASBH’s 23rd Annual Conference

Program Theme: Bioethics and Humanities at the Crossroads
Virtual Meeting
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