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Exploring Illness Narratives, University of Pennsylvania-Perelman.pdf (186.05 kB)

Exploring Illness Narratives, University of Pennsylvania (Perelman)

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posted on 2022-07-06, 16:21 authored by Post Discipline AdminPost Discipline Admin
Illness is a call for stories, and stories are central to the practice of medicine. People who are sick, and people who care for the sick, become tellers and listeners of narratives whether they realize it or not. Narrative Medicine seeks to fortify our clinical practice with the capacity to recognize, attend to, honor, and be moved by those stories. To that end, we will learn to mobilize the skills of attention, interpretation, and analysis of narratives that can help us become more capable, compassionate, and astute caregivers. This interactive, discussion-based course was designed collaboratively by PSOM and humanities faculty at the University of Pennsylvania to introduce the principles and practice of Narrative Medicine by engaging with some of the foundational texts of the field, as well as by reading and discussing prose, poetry, and other kinds of texts that tell stories of health and illness. The sessions are themed around some of the core emotions experienced by clinicians and patients alike as we encounter together the depth and ambiguity of clinical care. Students will be encouraged (though not required) to write and share their writing in this course. UPenn does not currently offer any FOR-CREDIT courses that rely on narratives for teaching. In other words, courses that are firmly in the arts and humanities are all electives, NON-credit. This course is non-credit-bearing. This information has been collected for the Post-Discipline Online Syllabus Database. The database explores the use of literature by schools of professional education in North America. It forms part of a larger project titled Post-Discipline: Literature, Professionalism, and the Crisis of the Humanities, led by Dr Merve Emre with the assistance of Dr Hayley G. Toth. You can find more information about the project at Data was collected and accurate in 2021/22.


Subject Area


Geographic Region

Middle Atlantic

University or College

University of Pennsylvania (Perelman)

Funding Status


Endowment (according to NACUBO's U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change* in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20) ($1,000)


Annual Tuition and Mandatory Fees 2021-2022 ($) (Resident; Non-resident, where applicable)


Course Title

Exploring Illness Narratives

Terminal Degree of Instructor(s)


Position of Instructor(s)


Academic Year(s) Active

2018/19, 2019/20, 2020/21

Course Enrolment

Between 4 and 8

Primary Works on Reading List

A mix of essays, short stories, some poems, including: Musée des Beaux-Arts by W. H. Auden, Wild Geese by Mary Oliver, The Use of Force by William Carlos Williams, Mom's Cancer by Brian Fies, Do not go gentle into the night by Dylan Thomas, The Aquarium by Aleksandar Hemon, The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde, A Small Needful Fact by Ross Gay, Intoxicated by My Illness by Anatole Broyard, and Expecting by Kevin Young.

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