Skip to main content


New Books in Medical Humanities: Culture and Medicine: Critical Readings in the Health and Medical Humanities

Public Humanities, Explorations in the Medical Humanities

dateFebruary 7, 2023 timeTuesday, 6:15pm EST locationVirtual Event
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
email address [email protected]
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
Cover of Culture and Medicine: Critical Readings in the Health and Medical Humanities, edited by Rishi Goyal & Arden Hegele

Culture and Medicine: Critical Readings in the Health and Medical Humanities
Edited by Arden Hegele and Rishi Goyal

Charting shared advances across the emerging fields of medical humanities and health humanities, this book engages with the question of how biomedical knowledge is constructed, negotiated, and circulated as a cultural practice.

The volume is composed of a series of pathbreaking inter-disciplinary essays that bring sociocultural habits of mind and modes of thought to the study of medicine, health and patients. These juxtapositions create new forms of knowledge, while emphasizing the vulnerability of human bodies, anti-essentialist approaches to biology, a sensitivity to language and rhetoric, and an attention to social justice.

These essays dissect the ways that cultural practices define the limits of health and the body: from the body's place and trajectory in the world to how bodies relate to one another, from questions about aging and sex to what counts as health and illness.

Considering how these and other concepts are shaped by a negotiation between medico-scientific knowledge and ways of knowing derived from other domains, this book provides important new insights into how biomedical frameworks become settled forms for broader cultural understanding.


Alicia Andrzejewski is an assistant professor in the College of William & Mary’s English Department. Her current book project, Queer Pregnancy in Shakespeare’s Plays, argues for the transgressive force of pregnancy in his oeuvre and the expansive ways in which early modern people thought about the pregnant body.

Kamna Balhara is an assistant professor and assistant residency program director in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. As a practicing physician and educator, she codirects the initiative for health humanities at Hopkins Emergency Medicine. Her work focuses on the integration of health humanities across the continuum of medical education.

John Carranza is a historian of science and medicine and specializes in public health and disability history. He will be a postdoctoral fellow with the Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Texas at Austin in 2022-2023.

Anna Fenton-Hathaway is the managing editor of Literature and Medicine, published by Johns Hopkins University Press and sponsored by the University of Illinois at Chicago. She teaches seminars on science fiction and bioethics to first- and second-year medical students at Northwestern University.

Kristina Fleuty, MA, is a research assistant at the Veterans and Families Institute for Military Social Research, based at Anglia Ruskin University in the United Kingdom.

Joshua Franklin is a medical anthropologist and psychiatry resident at the University of Pennsylvania. His work focuses on the medicalization of childhood and on care for transgender and gender-nonconforming youth in Philadelphia.

Benjamin Gagnon Chainey is a physical therapist and a PhD candidate in French-language literature jointly at Université de Montréal and Nottingham Trent University. His current PhD work conducts comparative analyses of the embodied experience of illness and of the upheaval of care relationship in both symbolist and decadent literature from the end of the nineteenth century, and in AIDS literature from the end of the twentieth century.

Rishi Goyal is the director of the medical humanities major at the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University, an assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, and a visiting professor at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense. He is a former SOF/Heyman Board Member.

Arden Hegele is a lecturer in English and comparative literature at Columbia University. She also teaches in the medical humanities major and at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in medical humanities and ethics. Her book is Romantic Autopsy: Literary Form and Medical Reading (2022). She was a member of the Society of Fellows from 2016-2019.

Roanne L. Kantor is an Assistant Professor of English at Stanford University. Her book, South Asian Writers, Latin American Literature, and the Rise of Global English, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press and was awarded the ACLA Helen Tartar First Book Subvention Prize in 2021. She is also a translator and the winner of the Susan Sontag Prize for Translation.

Travis Chi Wing Lau is an Assistant Professor of English at Kenyon College. His research and teaching focus on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature and culture, health humanities, and disability studies. Alongside his scholarship, Lau frequently writes for venues of public scholarship like Synapsis: A Journal of Health Humanities, Public Books, Lapham’s Quarterly, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. His poetry has appeared in Barren Magazine, Wordgathering, Glass, South Carolina Review, Foglifter, and the New Engagement, as well as in two chapbooks, The Bone Setter (2019) and Paring (2020).

Diana Rose Newby is a PhD candidate in English and comparative literature at Columbia University, where she teaches a medical humanities–themed writing course for first-year undergraduates. Her dissertation focuses on harm reduction as an emergent concept in nineteenth-century British fiction, science, and philosophy.

Gabriel Schaffzin is an Assistant Professor of Design Studies at York University. He completed his PhD in art history, theory, and criticism (art practice concentration) at UC San Diego. His work combines design history, information studies, and disability studies to look at the visual design of those tools that use numbers to communicate and measure pain in medical patients and trial subjects.

Livia Arndal Woods is an Assistant Professor of Literature in the University of Illinois at Springfield. Her work focuses on Victorian literature, gender and sexuality studies, and reading practices.