medical humanities; illness; gender; narrative; identity; autobiography; expert-lay person interaction; communication; metaphor research; medical education; doctor-patient interaction
(2015), “After all, the last thing I wanted to be was rude”: Raising of pragmatic awareness through reflective writing, 185-209.
(2015), A genre analysis of reflective writing texts by medical students: What role does narrative play?, 141-164.
(2015), Introduction to narrative matters in medical contexts across disciplines, 1-14.
(2015), Medical Humanities in der Ausbildung, in SCHWEIZERISCHE ÄRZTEZEITUNG – BULLETIN DES MÉDECINS SUISSES – BOLLETTINO DEI MEDICI SVIZZERI
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(2015), 'Woundable about the bounds' Life (beyond) writing and terminal illness, 34-45.
(2014), “All I could do was hand her another tissue” – Handling emotions as a challenge in reflective writing texts by medical students, 215-236.
(2013), Interdisziplinäres Forschungsprojekt: "Life (Beyond) Writing: Illness Narratives"
(2013), On Being Ill (in Britain and the US), in European Journal of Life Writing
, 1, 1-17.
(2013), Theoretically Ill: Autobiographer, Patient, Theorist, 173-190.
, Moving across disciplines and genres: Reading identity in illness narratives and reflective writing texts, 17-35.
, Sitwell Edith Sitwell: Stein and Sitwell in Echo.
This interdisciplinary research project comprising the fields of literature, linguistics, and medicine has been funded since 2009 and is in its final stages of completion. The current proposal is an extension of the original application and explains why we are applying for more funding. Our project “Life (Beyond) Writing: Illness Narratives” is situated within the broader field of medical humanities and narrative medicine, which not only includes courses on literary topics in connection with illness, but also on philosophical themes, on the arts, and even courses on writing about their own experience for medical students. The project is divided into three sub-projects. Sub-project A (Literature): The literary approach provides insights into the complex representations of illness in literary narratives and deals with the cultural and social constructions of illness. Apart from analyzing the cultural and social contexts of such narratives, medical issues and in particular the ways in which the patient/autobiographer is writing about them are being investigated and results can be used to bridge the gap between the patient’s personal experience of illness and its (bio)medical dimension. Furthermore, literary narratives with their powerful aesthetic impact do more than just mirror the experience of a patient/autobiographer; such narratives always contain imaginary realms which hint at a potential of humankind that often can only be expressed through art. The aesthetics of literary texts can express matters that are otherwise hidden from us, but nevertheless reveal insights into human experience such as illness. Using this insight in medical communication makes a more holistic approach to illness possible and improves the relationship between patient and doctor. Sub-project B (Linguistics): The linguistic analysis of narratives by fourth-year medical students of the University of Basel on a case history (which they all have to write after an intensive communication skills training) and the study of comparative corpora of such texts from English students (contact: Victoria Tischler, University of Nottingham) offers crucial information on the specific ways in which future doctors respond to and interpret a patient’s narrative and reflect on their own situation and response. This corpus is completed by a number of texts of professional practitioners, who reflect on their working experience in the journal columns ‘A Piece of My Mind’ (JAMA - The Journal of the American Medical Association) and ‘On Being a Doctor’ (AIM - Annals of Internal Medicine). Just as in the case of the analysis of literary narratives, the corpora thus consist of written texts that have been carefully composed and reflected on by their creators. In a framework that considers identities as being created discursively, the linguistic strategies that allow the students and practitioners to reflect on their identities as (novice) experts versus patients and the construction of illness in their narratives are investigated. Sub-project C (Medicine): The results of both linguistic and literary analyses are discussed with Alexander Kiss (University of Basel) who is in charge of the Medical Humanities and involved in the communication skills training of medical students at the medical faculty. The results are also used to improve current and develop future training for communicative skills for both medical students and practicing doctors and thus have a direct applied impact for the medical humanities. Furthermore, the students improve their narrative competence and are open and alert for illness narratives of patients that do not present a straightforward and clearly recognizable narrative line of a case history; instead, those medical students pay heed to otherwise hidden, yet crucial information on a more encompassing context of illness. The interrelation between the three disciplines is thus manifold in that both fields of linguistics and literature work on data derived from the field of medicine and let their results flow back into the field of medicine. The three sub-projects are in different stages of completion. The literary part is almost complete but needs more time to work on the most recent primary publications and to work on the transfer (publications and teaching material). The linguistic study of the reflective writing texts is delayed by several months due to problems of data collection during the first year of the project. Due to this, the PhD student involved would need another year of funding for completing the analysis and the writing of her dissertation. The medical study has been completed and results are being prepared for publication. In order to ensure an optimal transfer of the literary and linguistic results to the medical humanities, i.e. to teaching in the medical faculty, we suggest working closely together with the psychologist Dr. Victoria Tischler (University of Nottingham), who is teaching humanities courses and communication skills training to medical students at the University of Nottingham. This exchange will also enable us to revisit crucial theoretical concepts and to intensify our interdisciplinary work by integrating them into our respective disciplinary analysis. Collaborating with Tischler provides a great opportunity for us to discuss issues from the field of medical humanities with a British expert who has been teaching in this field for quite some time.