Physical wellness and mental health are central to life and livelihood, and make medicine and healthcare critical human experiences. Myriad cultural forms abound with images of illness and treatment, including literary and visual representation, personal narratives, and journalism. This panel seeks papers that explore medical narratives that fit within and/or work against the grain of comparative literature as a discipline. How do medical narratives create a sense of difference, or highlight otherness, and in what ways are they dialogical? Where are the critical narrative intersections and the translational boundaries? What is gained in these representational transactions?
Papers might analyze how creative works engage issues of illness, consider how narrative reasoning functions, and/or scrutinize the relationship between probability and fidelity. Topics could be the importance of storytelling for medical contexts, the value of reflection, the opportunity for creativity in and through the telling of traumatic events, and the validation and responsibilities of medical narratives. What is the relationship between medical case histories and cultural representation of medical situations? How does narrative allow an exploration of ethics and bioethics? What is the relationship between epistemology and empiricism in representations, and does narrative reveal truths beyond scientific and clinical fact? Does medical narrative have transformative potential, and can it enter the realm of narrative medicine?
Papers may deal with single texts/authors or general topics, such as doctor-patient relations, gendered representations, public health concerns, healthcare sites and circumstances, crisis intervention, aging, alternative treatments, and mental health issues. Representations across cultures and historical periods, and with a focus on aesthetic, critical and social contexts, are encouraged.
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