Journal of Medical Humanities 34 (4):429-432 (2013)

I recently taught an upper-division Honors class in Medicine and Literature with students ranging from a pre-physician’s assistant student and nursing student to English, French, History, and Technical Writing majors. The common thread connecting these students initially was their self-described fear of and helplessness with poetry. However, as the semester drew to a close, their class discussion and journals revealed not only increased comfort with poetry but also a preference for it. The information and insight they got from poetry, they said, were the reason they took a medical humanities course in the first place and commented that the poetry we read provoked more substantial “medicine and literature” discussions than prose. Poetry provides a good starting place to analyze complex human relationships, and the focus on language and form levels the intellectual playing field: students are all unfamiliar with how to do it and are learning a new skill together. This could be accomplished, of course, with a literary short story, but for the diverse population of students in this class, the brevity of poetry made it all the more appealing
Keywords Pedagogy  Medical or health humanities  Undergraduate  Poetry
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DOI 10.1007/s10912-013-9242-8
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