A newsletter from the Division of Medical Humanities at NYU Langone Health
May 8, 2020

Narrative Healthcare:
Soul Support in Covid-19

The website Narrative Healthcare "draws together the fields where medicine and humanities touch." As part of this effort, they have put together a resource called "Soul Support in Covid-19," featuring poetry, meditations, lamentations, writing prompts, and art with meditative questions.

JAMA's "A Piece of My Mind" Anniversary Issue

To honor the 40th anniversary of "A Piece of My Mind," the editors of JAMA have compiled 40 favorite essays from the past 10 years. As Abraham Verghese, MD, notes in his editorial: "Stories are instructions for living and are the way we make sense of our lives. We are never in more need of them than now."

Putting COVID-19 Into Perspective: A Conversation with David Oshinsky, PhD

David Oshinsky, PhD, director of the Division of Medical Humanities at NYU Langone Health, speaks with the podcast With the Bark Off: Conversations from the LBJ Presidential Library about how the Covid-19 pandemic compares with those of the past, including one of the greatest stories of modern medicine, the roll-out of the polio vaccine.

What Cy Twombly’s Art Can Teach Us About Patients’ Stories

"By slowing down and observing art, trainees can reflect on how clinicians make sense of stories that contain information that appears random and lacks coherence—and, more importantly, how clinicians draw on these stories to respond to patients’ needs..." This article by Jay Baruch, MD, Stacey Springs, PhD, Alexandra Poterack, and Sarah Ganz Blythe, PhD, explores how painter Cy Twombly’s Untitled can help with reflection and observation skills.

Highlights from
Division of Medical Humanities Projects
at NYU Langone Health

BLR Featured Essay: "Unwrapping"

In the essay "Unwrapping," Wendy Breuer provides a portrait of her early days as a nurse in the 1970s, and how memories of one of her first patients surfaced during her father's illness nearly 30 years later: "What drew me to Mr. Kiefer was something familiar that reminded me of my father, even though in 1978 my father was a man in his fifties still putting in the hours at his drugstore. I was still learning what it meant to unwrap a long-neglected wound, even if I didn't yet understand that not all wounds should be unwrapped...."

New Annotation: Russell Teagarden on The Estrogen Elixir: A History of Hormone Replacement Therapy in America by Elizabeth Siegel Watkins

“As the author unfurls the history of estrogen use, she reveals some notable history of Biomedicine, in particular, the discovery and development of hormones, the rise of medicalization, the growth of women’s health and patient advocacy groups, the advancement of patient education, and the evolution of clinical research standards.”

Calls for Submission & Other Opportunities


Call for Papers: Medical Narratives of Ill Health
For this special issue of Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine, the editors seek to explore how literature from the early nineteenth century to the present day engages with and challenges modern medical authority when it comes to understanding disease, illness, and sickness. Papers for this special issue should focus on narratives—fictional and/or non-fictional (such as medical realism, science fiction, pathographies, medical reports, etc.)—that explore the contentious space of disagreement between medicine, society, and the individual. Deadline: July 31, 2020. More information.

Events & Conferences


“Passing for Human: Writing Comics from Life,” a talk by cartoonist Liana Finck

May Virtual Narrative Medicine Rounds, Columbia Narrative Medicine

Quack Medicine Virtual Show & Tell with The Museum of Interesting Things


Care for the Polis: Cities, Health, and the Humanities -- Forms of Urban and Medical Exclusion


Nevertheless She Existed: Women in Medicine


MedHumChat: Emotional Strength While Facing Uncertainty

Exploring "Emotional Strength While Facing Uncertainty" in a #MedHumChat curated by Dr. Margot Hedlin
(9:00pm-10:00pm, Twitter)

MedHumChat: Life in Lockdown

Exploring "Life in Lockdown" in a #MedHumChat curated by Drs. Becca Omlor and Anoushka Sinha
(9:00pm-10:00pm, Twitter)

Narrative Medicine & The Creative Impulse

** RESCHEDULED from April 17-19 **
Hosted by the Division of Narrative Medicine at Columbia. Early Bird Registration of $50 off tuition through March 20. Standard Registration open through April 6th, space permitting.
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