Columbia

CPLS V3960: Foundations of Narrative Medicine: Giving and Receiving Accounts of Self| M. Spiegel

Narrative competence is a crucial dimension of health-care delivery, the capacity to attend and respond to stories of illness, and the narrative skills to reflect critically on the scene of care. Narrative Medicine explores and builds the clinical applications of literary knowledge. How are illnesses emplotted? Does suffering belong to a genre? Can a medical history be co-narrated in order to redistribute ownership and authority? What does Geoffrey Hartman mean by the term, “story cure”? The objectives of this course include furthering close reading skills, and exploring theories of self-telling and relationality. At the center of this project is the medical encounter. We are interested in situations in which one person gives an account of himself, of herself, and another person is expected to receive it. In examining the complexities of this exchange, to help clinicians to fulfill their “receiving” duties more effectively, we will turn to narrative theory, performance theory, autobiographical theory, psychoanalytic theory, and the nexus of narrative and identity. Readings will include works by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Henry James, W.G. Sebald, Kazuo Ishiguro, Judith Butler, Arthur Frank, Jonathan Shay, Michael White, and an assortment of the readings in narrative theory, trauma scholarship, and witnessing literature. 

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