Showing 71 - 80 of 80 annotations in the genre "Essay"

Last Things

Spark, Debra

Last Updated: Nov-23-1997
Annotated by:
Squier, Harriet

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Essay

Summary:

The author recounts the last months of her sister's life as she slowly died of breast cancer in her mid-20's. The narrator and her sister, Cyndy, renegotiate their relationship and family roles throughout the illness. The narrator addresses the issue of living despite the prospect of dying, and of trying not to die while in the midst of attempting to live one's life. The narrator also recognizes the centrality of desire (in its broadest sense) in our lives, and describes our guilt about satiating our desires, the sense of loss from not ever really satiating them, and the inability to satisfy the desires of another.

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Stillborn

Fischer, Maribeth

Last Updated: Nov-23-1997
Annotated by:
Squier, Harriet

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Essay

Summary:

A grown daughter recounts how her mother suddenly left her family for another man and moved away. The author feels alternately puzzled and betrayed by her mother's leaving. With her mother's help, she explores the complex connections between her mother's action and her mother's experience of having a stillborn child many years before.

She describes how each family member reacted to the discovery that the child was stillborn, how the nurses took the baby away and wouldn't let her parents hold him, and how little they actually grieved over or talked about the baby afterward. In her role as protector of her family, shielding everyone else from the pain of the stillbirth, the author's mother lost something central of herself. She left her family in order to begin to find it.

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josie takes the stand

Herschberger, Ruth

Last Updated: Mar-21-1997
Annotated by:
Moore, Pamela

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Essay

Summary:

Herschberger pretends to interview Josie, a female chimpanzee tested by Robert M. Yerkes. Yerkes used his observation of Josie's behavior to write his famous paper arguing that males are naturally dominant over females and that females naturally engage in prostitution. In the interview, Josie tells her side of the story, refuting Yerkes conclusions. She points out flaws in the experiment and offers a more woman-centered interpretation of her actions.

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Aequanimitas

Osler, William

Last Updated: Feb-03-1997
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Essay

Summary:

Osler’s famous essay was first delivered as a valedictory address at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1889. Osler urges the graduates to develop two qualities or virtues. First is the "bodily" virtue of imperturbability or "a judicious measure of obtuseness." This means the outward expression of calmness and coolness, even under difficult circumstances. This virtue suggests that physicians should be relatively "insensible" to the slings-and-arrows of patient care, always maintaining a degree of detachment from their patients.

The complementary "mental" virtue is aequanimitas, which is the personal quality of calmly accepting whatever comes in life. These virtues, however, should not lead to "hardness" in dealing with patients. Osler also urges his students and colleagues to develop the other gentlemanly virtues of courage, patience, and honor.

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What Is a Profession?

Scarlett, Earle

Last Updated: Feb-03-1997
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Essay

Summary:

Scarlett writes about the tradition of medicine in a recognizably British (Canadian) voice. He presents a definition of a profession that features social responsibility and duty to serve others, and notes that "an organized profession does not seek to advance the money-making feature of professional activity." Scarlett identifies seven "pillars" (principal qualities) of the physician, or any other professional: technical skill, social responsibility, knowledge of history, knowledge of literature and the arts, personal integrity, faith that there is some meaning and value in life, and "the grace of humility."

Scarlett critiques the medical profession in two ways. First, physicians are not skeptical enough and willing enough to correct their errors. Secondly, professional qualities have declined "at the hands of the scarcely literate pushing public . . . . " As a result of this, some physicians now believe that "all this rhetoric about the essential nobility of the medical profession is a load of old rubbish" (p. 129).

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Annotated by:
Wear, Delese

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Essay

Summary:

Part of Patricia Foster's collection, Minding the Body: Women Writers on Body and Soul, Houston's essay is a cynical, self-deprecating, painfully honest, and wryly humorous observation of contemporary American women's obsession with their bodies, most notably thinness. Musing on her own lifelong fixation with weighing less, she admits that "for a good part of my life I would have quite literally given anything to be thin . . . a finger, three toes, the sight in one eye." Her essay is a collection of snapshots in her life, moments that bring into focus her displeasure with her body shape and size: walking down Fifth Avenue sizing up other women's bodies; the dinner habits of her family of origin that prohibited bread, dessert, or seconds; her husband's (thin) women employees who eyeball her body; her ongoing relationship with mirrors.

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Raising the Dead

Selzer, Richard

Last Updated: Jan-28-1997
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Essay

Summary:

Selzer developed Legionnaire's disease and was comatose for 23 days in 1991. In this short book, he describes his illness and prolonged convalescence. The time of his stay in the ICU is lost to him, so he invents the story of what (might have) happened when he was comatose and delirious. In fact, he invents his own death and resurrection.

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Of Experience

Montaigne, Michel de

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Essay

Summary:

In Montaigne's final essay he expounds upon the results of his long search for self knowledge via life experience. He uses disease, health, medicine and doctors as prime arenas for demonstration of what he has learned from living. On physicians: to be a "right" physician, one must have experienced every illness, accident or mishap one seeks to treat. On going to stool: to have a right bowel movement, one must have peace, quiet, punctuality and privacy to avoid unruliness of the belly. On treatment: "I hate remedies that are more troublesome than the disease itself." On the most preferable ailments: here the essayist writes of the advantages of stone: that is, the agony always ends, the disease does not portend death or worse, the sufferer spends more time feeling well than hurting, and it has political advantages for allowing a show of stoicism. And there is more.

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Heirs of General Practice

McPhee, John

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
McEntyre, Marilyn

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Essay

Summary:

Originally a three-part series in the New Yorker, this is an account of McPhee's six months of observing rural family doctors in Maine. It is both an engaging portrait of a kind of family practice increasingly rare in America, and implicitly an argument that those involved in professional medicine consider the tradeoffs in choosing between urban, high-tech, specialization and rural family practice where they know whole families in the context of community over time.

The narrative, based on interviews with physicians, some patients, and observations of clinical encounters, follows the daily routines and decision-making of several rural practitioners who consciously chose against the more lucrative, prestigious option of urban private practice, specialization, or academic medicine.

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Annotated by:
Wear, Delese

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Essay

Summary:

In this essay on the spirit and the sacred, Rushdie examines the importance of language and literature in a secular, rationalist, materialist culture. He makes a case for literature as a privileged arena so that we can, "within the secrecy of our own heads . . . hear voices talking about everything in every possible way."

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