Special Issue "Medical Narratives of Ill Health"
A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2019)
The field of literature and medicine has been steadily growing over the past four decades, solidifying itself as a vital component of the medical and health humanities. The intersection of literature and medicine enriches how we view issues of health, disease, and care, particularly in how we value the individual’s narrative of health and ill health to help with diagnosis, treatment, and the relationship between the practitioner and the patient. In an attempt to wade through the difficult terrain of defining disease and health, Kenneth Boyd provides the following medical definitions (adapted from Marshall Marinker’s earlier work): “Disease […] is the pathological process, deviation from a biological norm. Illness is the patient's experience of ill health, sometimes when no disease can be found. Sickness is the role negotiated with society” (Boyd, 1997). What Boyd reveals about these definitions is that one allows for the individual’s experience of ill health (illness), while the other two rely on others’ perceptions of ill health. Thus, he concludes, a clear definition of disease (and even sickness) is elusive: “to call something a disease is a value judgement, relatively unproblematic in cases when it is widely shared, but more contentious when people disagree about it” (Boyd, 1997). This contentious space has widened during the modern medical era (early nineteenth century to the present day), as medical reliance on technology favors an objective identification of disease. However, literary works, through both personal accounts and fictional scenarios, challenge this singular narrative of disease and ill health provided by the medical community.
For this special issue of Humanities, we seek to explore how literature from the early nineteenth century to the present day engages with and challenges modern medical authority when it comes to understanding disease, illness, and sickness. Papers for this special issue of Humanities should focus on narratives—fictional and/or non-fictional (such as medical realism, science fiction, pathographies, medical reports, etc.)—that explore the contentious space of disagreement between medicine, society, and the individual. Authors might consider topics such as: disease as metaphor; social vs. medical definitions of disease; patient agency and individual experiences of illness; challenges to medical technology’s presumed objectivity; representations of contagion and/or public health—or any other topics that relate to better understanding literary representations of disease, illness, and/or sickness.
Articles should be no more than 8000 words, inclusive of notes. Please email articles directly to Amanda M. Caleb at [email protected].
Dr. Amanda Caleb
Manuscript Submission Information
Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.
Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.
Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charges (APCs) of 350 CHF (Swiss Francs) per published paper are partially funded by institutions through Knowledge Unlatched for a limited number of papers per year. Please contact the editorial office before submission to check whether KU waivers, or discounts are still available. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.
- disease, sickness, and illness
- public health and contagion
- patient agency
- medical technology
- medical humanities