The Literature, Arts & Medicine Database is a comprehensive resource for teaching and scholarship in the medical humanities. This annotated bibliography of prose, poetry, art, film and video is an excellent tool for exploring how the humanities disciplines can engage and illuminate the study and practice of medicine.
The database is a multi-institutional project with close ties to the New York University School of Medicine. The editors include faculty in medical schools and literature programs throughout North America who have experience with teaching and scholarship in the medical humanities. Annotations are written exclusively by the editors and by individuals working under their supervision.
Annotations include a brief summary of each work and commentary on its themes and potential usefulness in teaching. Some 139 keywords are used to index the entries, including medically relevant topics such as AIDS, caregivers, depression, doctor-patient relationship, euthanasia, family relationships, gay/lesbian/bisexual issues, medical mistakes, and psychotherapy. Indexing is generous, with over a dozen terms applied to most entries. The annotations are well written and concise, and serve well as a jumping-off point for further research, as it would be difficult to fully address the themes in a few paragraphs. A link to the Medical Humanities home page at NYU provides such resources, including archives of the Literature and Medicine discussion list and syllabi from numerous institutions.
Sections of the database specific to art, literature, and film/video may be searched separately and have their own unique features. The literature section includes additional indexes by genre, era, and special categories of authors, such as physician authors. Links are provided from many annotated entries to online texts and audio files in which authors read from their work; lists of available online versions can also be found in the "Reading Room" and "Listening Room" from the main page.
Nearly all of the art annotations also include links to reproductions of the art works at external sites, generally museum sites that provide additional resources on the works and artists. A "Meet the Artist" index leads to online sites for the artists represented in the database. Connections with literature can be found in indexes to annotated art books and to annotated fiction or poetry centered on works of art. The film and video section is well developed, with 121 annotations, but has minimal online content at this writing: excerpts from one film and one theatrical performance.
The home page gives an excellent overview of the status of the database, which is updated quarterly: dates of most recent and upcoming revisions, clear paths to new material, and total number of annotations in each category. The site design is impressive; search options and results are clear and intuitive. The Literature, Arts & Medicine Database would be an essential resource for any institution with programs in the health sciences, but would also be valuable more generally, as a specialized resource in literature and art collections.
University of Oregon