Literature and Medicine

Another way of looking at illnesses

By investigating the meaning of medicine in society, VU University Medical Center looks beyond merely performing its key tasks. The Department of Metamedica (Medical Humanities) - where the disciplines of history, philosophy, ethics, anthropology and sociology merge – has been concentrating on the relationship between literature and medicine since 1993, by looking at the way in which illnesses, medicine, patients and medics are portrayed in novels, poetry, autobiographical stories and movies. Writers are good at observing medical practice and the culture in which that practice takes place. The description of that is therefore valuable for doctors as well as for patients: they often provide additional and surprising insights. This website is divided into an ‘Activities’ chapter (in which all projects are listed that have been finalized and that are currently ongoing) and a ‘Databases’ chapter (in which all databases are listed which have been or are being developed in the fields of literature, movies and documentaries, poetry, biographies of illnesses and art in a medical context).

Recently, the department of General Practice and Elderly Medicine has taken over the activities in the field of Literature and medicine.

Activities

The activities in the field of Literature and Medicine are mainly sponsered by VU Medical Center and, recently, the University for Humanistic studies in Utrecht.

Databases

At the moment, only the Novels and stories database is available in English.

The database novels and stories is searchable by keywords and by author. At the moment 87 novels, stories and autobiographies have been made available. Keywords give also acces to citations from the novels in the databse. At the moment, 453 citations are available.

 

In the future, more databases will be made available:

  • Poetry and Medicine
  • Pathographies
  • Books and articles about literature and medicine
  • Films, tv series and documentaries
  • Visual Arts and Medicine

In the database Films, tv-series and documentaries,  movies, tv series and documentaries about being ill and illness are reviewed. You can search by keyword and title. This database is still under construction
The database Visual Arts and Medicine is a modest digital art gallery with visual arts about illness and health, but still under construction. You can find more in the Dutch side.
In the Poetry and Medicine database, poems about disease will be gathered, s far as copyright rules make that possible. Also still under construction.
The database about Literature and Medicine is meant for researchers. There are many books with essays about literature and medicine, or about a certain general topic in the field of literature and medicine. These books are gathered in this database, with a short description and a pdf of the contents table. Furthermore, many articles about literature and medicine are gathered in this database. We hope this database will be available in june 2014. 

Dutch and English

The English website is based on the Dutch website, but in the English version, the information in Dutch is left out. The Dutch site is being translated at the moment, so the information in the English site is also less at the moment. Over 300 books entries still have to be translated. When using the databases you may switch from English to Dutch when you click on 'In het Nederlands' in the right hand top. You can return to Dutch by clicking on 'In English'.