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The Health Humanities Journal Exhibition Night was quite an enlightening and emotional experience. As someone with an interest in creative writing and the health humanities myself, having read many non-fiction illness narratives and biographies, I was very interested in the meeting and the content. 

When I first joined the Zoom meeting, I didn’t think that they would literally just read out their articles – I thought there would’ve been more of a discussion as to what their thought process was while writing or something of the sort. Admittedly, the long articles were a little hard to follow, and I ended up reading them at my own pace. However, the stories and poems that were narrated really piqued my interest and had me hooked.

Most memorably, Scott Giberson Jr.’s works were written and narrated in such an emotional way that I could visualize the scenarios. Wishful Numbness and Open Late remind me of the way I write, and I could relate better to his works. 

Although the work that we’re currently doing in class is focused on the health humanities, just like the theme and content of this journal, I didn’t quite see a lot of illness narratives written in the third person from another person’s point of view. I ended up not really finding anything that was similar to what we’re currently working on in class, but I did have a few pointers to take away from the presentation overall.

Through this presentation, I realized that the health humanities spans over more than just journal articles, and can be presented in even short lines or passages, such as disassociation by Alexa Holloway, which almost looked like a scribbling of thoughts, even just a musing. Although I doubt that I could really do that in my own Unit Project, it was definitely intriguing to read.

The more poetic and creative works in the journal, such as Scott Giberson Jr.’s works, gave me a good sense of how to convey emotion in a rich, yet concise manner. Although I don’t want to make my Unit Project too emotional, it would definitely be nicer to read if it evoked some sort of sympathy or empathy from the audience, which was something that I observed in the works displayed in the journal.

I understood that the connection between health and the humanities can often be overlooked, and is so subtle, but is still so important. One cannot draw a clear Venn diagram to show the intersections between the two – they are deeply intertwined, as if they were two threads in a tapestry, and cannot be considered to be separate from one another. This is important for healthcare professionals and policymakers as well to understand, because the humanities give insight into human conditions, illnesses and suffering, which highly impacts how we approach treatment. Not once in these works did I see a pure biomedical perspective; each one was substantiated with human feelings and emotions. Ethical issues would arise if we looked at health without a humanitarian perspective.

With all of these new ideas, I feel like I can now improve on my illness narrative project and really shape it into something that captures the essence of the connection between health and the humanities, just like the journal and its works did.

Image citation: Da Vinci, L. (1490). Vitruvian Man [Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of man in a square and a circle from his study of proportions.]. Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice, Italy.

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