Mission Statement

This site, established in 1994 at New York University School of Medicine, is dedicated to providing a resource for scholars, educators, students, patients, and others who are interested in the work of medical humanities. We define the term "medical humanities" broadly to include an interdisciplinary field of humanities (literature, philosophy, ethics, history and religion), social science (anthropology, cultural studies, psychology, sociology), and the arts (literature, theater, film, and visual arts) and their application to medical education and practice. The humanities and arts provide insight into the human condition, suffering, personhood, our responsibility to each other, and offer a historical perspective on medical practice. Attention to literature and the arts helps to develop and nurture skills of observation, analysis, empathy, and self-reflection -- skills that are essential for humane medical care. The social sciences help us to understand how bioscience and medicine take place within cultural and social contexts and how culture interacts with the individual experience of illness and the way medicine is practiced.

The largest section of this medical humanities web site is the searchable Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database. The database holds annotations of works of literature, art, and film relevant to the illness experience, medical education and practice -- fiction; poetry; memoir, biography, autobiography; literary, cultural, and social criticism; visual art; film; drama. The annotations are written by an invited editorial board of scholars from all over North America.

We link to an e-mail listserv, Lit-Med, for those interested in discussing any of the topics mentioned above.

Also at this web site is the Medical Humanities Community (Medhum Community), a directory of people and programs throughout North America and elsewhere who are engaged in various aspects of medical humanities work. The directory is organized by country, state, and institution.

Syllabi in medical humanities from a number of institutions are posted at our syllabus site and there are also links to syllabi at our Medhum Community site.


Felice Aull, Ph.D., M.A.
New York University School of Medicine