The Human Condition Curated

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Jacalyn Duffin on Tell by Frances Itani

“An exploration of post-traumatic stress in World War I—before it had been so named….. One of many messages in this haunting story is the possibility of healing through talking – Telling”

Albert Howard Carter on Health Humanities by Crawford, Brown, Baker, Tischler and Abrams

"This monograph presents health humanities, a new field in the past decade and the presumptive replacement for medical humanities (itself new in the 1980s), which provided an important voice in the improvement of medical care."

Mark Clark on Archangel by John Updike

"This piece invites readers into the contemplation of possessing an awareness of beauty, wanting to be able to share that awareness of and the joys of it, yet not being able to."

Guy Glass on Bad Vibrations: The History of the Idea of Music as a Cause of Disease by James Kennaway

"The therapeutic benefits of music are well known, but the theory that music might be harmful to our health, unless it is so obviously loud it injures our eardrums, comes as a surprise.  In this volume, historian of medicine James Kennaway traces the idea of pathological music from antiquity to the present."

Mark Clark on Lifeguard by John Updike

"The narrator of this story is a lifeguard who contemplates his identity and life-roles as he lounges in his lifeguard chair, elevated above the crowd of beachgoers.  In the winter months, he is a student of divinity; in the summer months, he ascends the throne marked with a red cross in the hopes of guarding the lives of those at play before him."

Albert Howard Carter on Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life by E. O. Wilson

"This short but complex book assesses the many, current risks to all life on earth and considers some avenues for repair that may provide hope for the future. E. O. Wilson, a distinguished scientist, describes how all life on earth is inter-related.."

Jacalyn Duffin on Haematology by Graham Swift

"The story invites discussion of the role of physicians in a politically divided world, and it draws an interesting parallel between scientific and political regimes."

Jacalyn Duffin on The Children Act by by Ian McEwan

"A remarkable story that, like all McEwan’s work, focuses on the inner dilemmas of everyday life. He explodes a single instant into pages of riveting prose—and, like collisions in a cloud chamber, shows how a tiny event can alter destiny."

Marilyn McEntyre on Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

"A fine coming-of-age novel that focuses on several important issues related to mental and spiritual health, effects of racism, depression and despair, and fear."

Jacalyn Duffin on Please Write by Beth Pierce Robinson

“Illustrated with photographs and maps, and amplified by intelligent, sensitive commentary by the remarkable nonagenarian, Beth, this book includes information on the treatments available in wartime and the strategic events of the war.”

New Blog post on the NYU LitMed Blog

Learning Empathy through Chekhov
Reflections on the Importance of Dramatic Arts in Medical School Curricula
by Alicia Stallings, DaShawn Hickman, and Nick Szoko
Introduced by Guy Glass, MD

Mark A. Clark on Alfred Lord Tennyson's Tithonus

"Tithonus is a dramatic monologue that imagines the once handsome, magnificent Trojan prince to be well-advanced in an unfortunate state brought about by negligent gods and his own lack of foresight. "

Audrey Shafer on The Wound Dresser by Jack Coulehan

"This collection of poems by physician Jack Coulehan provides a wide range of themes, forms, times, locations and sensibilities. It is the work of a master of the art – this is his sixth poetry volume –  whose career in medicine, writing, health humanities and medical education surfaces in many of the poems.”

Russell Teagarden on The Father by Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller

“The Father is the story of an older man with Alzheimer’s disease (André) and his progression through first living on his own, then living with his daughter (Anne), and finally living in a nursing home. Or, is it? It’s hard to tell, and that is the intention of the playwright...”

Marilyn McEntyre on Snowball in a Blizzard: A Physician's Notes on Uncertainty in Medicine by Steven Hatch

"The aim of these reflections on uncertainty in medicine is not to discredit evidence-based medicine or to incite suspicion of the careful and caring processes by which most clinicians arrive at the advice they give.  Rather it is to change conversations among practitioners and between them and their patients in such a way as to raise everyone’s tolerance for the inevitable ambiguities and uncertainties we live with.“

Gretl Lam on Little Angel by Matt Sesow

“The artist, Matt Sesow, suffered a horrific trauma at the age of 8, when an airplane propeller sliced off his left arm. Although doctors tried to reattach the limb, his left hand could not be saved. Sesow has learned to channel the anger, grief, and intensity from this physical and emotional trauma into his paintings, which are raw and dark and vivid.”
Painting credit: Matt Sesow

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Total Database Contents

  • 170 Visual Art Annotations
  • 2683 Literature Annotations
  • 253 Performing Art Annotations
  • 94 Artists
  • 1716 Authors
  • 140 Keywords