Humanities Institute

Narrative Medicine

Narrative Medicine: Close Reading, Expressive Writing began in 2017 as an informal workshop for Dell Medical School students sponsored by the Humanities Institute and led by Professor Phillip Barrish, HI Associate Director for Health and Humanities. Professor Barrish now teaches the class on a regular basis as an enrichment elective at Dell Medical School. He also offers single-session narrative medicine workshops at Dell and elsewhere. Developed by Dr. Rita Charon and colleagues at Columbia University, which offers a Master’s degree in the field, Narrative Medicine has become a worldwide movement. It draws on the power and ubiquity of storytelling in health care, as well as skills associated with literature and other arts, to help patients and caregivers articulate their own experiences and, equally important, learn to attend closely, interpret, and be moved to act by the stories of others, thus improving health care experiences and outcomes for all. 

Narrative Medicine: Close Reading, Expressive Writing brought together Dell Medical School students interested in adopting a more humanistic approach to medicine and practices of comprehensive care. Sponsored by UT-Austin’s Humanities Institute and inspired by Dr. Rita Charon’s work in Narrative Medicine, the group met for two hours one Saturday a month during the spring 2017 academic term.

Texts used in Class: 









Phillip Barrish, Professor of English at UT, co-director of the symposium Health, Medicine, and Literature, and Humanities Institute Faculty Fellow, led medical students in two focal activities: (1) close-reading short literary texts that relate to issues of health, medicine, and care and (2) expressive writing that draws from students’ own experiences and perspectives. Little to no out-of-class work will be involved. 

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    University of Texas at Austin
    Office Address: SAC 4.138
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    Austin, Texas 78712