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Medical Writings |

Literature and Medicine: An On-Line Guide

Rita Charon, MD; and Martha Montello, PhD
[+] Article and Author Information

Columbia University; New York, NY 10032 University of Kansas School of Medicine; Kansas City, KS 66160 Requests for Reprints: Rita Charon, MD, Division of General Medicine, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, 630 West 168th Street, PH 9 East, Room 105, New York, NY 10032; e-mail, rac5@columbia.edu. Current Author Addresses: Dr. Charon: Division of General Medicine, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, 630 West 168th Street, PH 9 East, Room 105, New York, NY 10032.


Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1998;128(11):959-962. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-128-11-199806010-00030
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The Literature and Medicine Database, a unique on-line bibliography of literary works relevant to medicine and medical education, is a rich and promising contribution to the field of humanities and medicine. Joanne Trautmann Banks had the vision, in 1975, to publish an encyclopedic and inspired annotated bibliography on literature and medicine, supporting scholarly and pedagogic work for the early part of this field's ascendance [1]. Although less comprehensive than its predecessor, the Literature and Medicine database has a far greater reach and meets several educational needs cogently and conveniently. A physiologist on the faculty at New York University and now also a graduate student in a literature and cultural studies program, Professor Felice Aull had the wisdom and where-withal to offer an electronic literature and medicine database in 1993, posting it initially at a New York University gopher site and since 1994 on the World Wide Web (http://endeavor.med.nyu.edu/lit-med). Aull has nurtured a vibrant collaborative effort from an ever-growing editorial board of physicians, historians, occupational therapists, anthropologists, poets, art historians, and literary critics to annotate selected literary works and then to catalogue them by genre and topic. Intended to support the medical educator who wants to incorporate literary texts into his or her teaching, the database has already succeeded, according to anecdotal report, in making literary texts more accessible to physicians, teachers, and students. It has also shown what can happen to literary studies in the hands of medicine-they become less strictured, less disciplined, and less bounded by time periods or conventional ideas of form.

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