Major and Classification
Literary Editing and Publishing (MA) and Narrative Studies
Research Gateway Project
Is There a Narrative Medicine Canon? Analyses of Core Undergraduate, Graduate, and Pre-Doctoral Health Professions Syllabi
As narrative medicine (NM) becomes a more prominent, established subfield in the health humanities, we must take the time to critically examine the texts that have become central to teaching NM and consider whether NM is contending with an emerging canon. Because NM is only twenty years old and canons can take several decades to develop, there has been little scholarship dedicated to observing canon formation in NM. However, the fact that NM is still emerging is precisely why scholars should be interested in canon formation. We are at a pivotal moment––each time we teach, we construct the essence of NM. If we can intervene with canon formation now, we can potentially avoid perpetuating inequities from which other fields and canons have suffered. Therefore, I draw on 28 NM syllabi, accessed through the Health Humanities Syllabus Repository, to determine the existence and content of an emerging NM canon. Analyses of these materials reveal that although it may be too soon to argue that a NM canon has formed, there are core texts and authors that educators repeatedly teach and include in their syllabi. While NM education is found across several course varieties, there remain persistent disparities in the racial representation of authors. This study invites us to consider how we might expand and encourage NM to be more capacious and reveals that educators are experimenting with what a NM course looks like and what constitutes a NM text.