1468.20 - Give me Strength. Narrative Medicine and Literature as a Resource of Sick and Mourners (MA)

Course number
Give me Strength. Narrative Medicine and Literature as a Resource of Sick and Mourners (MA)
BA degree in Faroese or other equivalent preconditions. This course may also be taken as an individual course with other prerequisites. (Please refer to the academic programme in force).
The purpose is to investigate how literature as reading and writing can be used as therapy in different contexts. On the course literature will be approached as a third therapeutic room between doctor and people affected by illness and crises. The students acquire knowledge of how mourning and illness get meaning as a literary perspective, as narrators’ view and thus as a specific artistic consciousness. The course aims not only at students within literary studies and other university students, but also at people working with illness and mourning: priests, doctors, nurses, midwives and other interested.
We analyze Faroese, Nordic and other European works. Articles will be read on key concepts within the new scientific field of Narrative Medicine and Medical Humanities with overall regard for links between medical ('Medical care’, Rita Charon) and literary ('Uses of literature', Rita Felski) perspectives. We will be consulting literary works with regard to an interdisciplinary approach bridging medicine and literary studies. While at the same time we also partly take a look at philosophical and theological (hermeneutic) perspectives of meaning. The questions that will be addressed is how the stories and imagery of literature – both as writing and reading – can alleviate, enliven and possibly heal, and how literature can be applied clinically. The course presents tools, principles and practices in Narrative Medicine with a view to how these can be used to describe and enlighten the shadow world in which sufferers often find themselves. Through storytelling and the fiction lens, it is easier to confront a trauma, a depression illness. Of particular interest is 1) how literature can be used as a resource where it can be linked to everyday life and life practices: identification, empathy, recognition and re-enchantment, 2) how all these aspects can be linked to creating of hermeneutic meaning and 3) how not only reading but also writing can act as a helping hand in understanding the life story of the sick.
Learning and teaching approaches
Lectures, presentations by teacher and students, group work.
Learning outcomes
Successful students can demonstrate: • Critially to convey knowledge about differences and similarities between Narrative Medicine and Conventional Medicine. • To use concepts within Narrative Medicine, Medical Humanities and hermeneutic philosophy. • Critically to describe different approaches to concepts within Narrative Medicine such as identification, empathy, recognition, re-enchantment. • To analyse different uses of literature which can be connected to health issues e.g. preachers, reading groups, and in the church in general. • To analyze relationships mellem ‘European’ and Faroese literature/life writing with a special focus on Narrative Medicine. • Linking Narrative Medicine to European existentialism/existential philosophy (Heidegger, Peter Kemp, K.E. Løgstrup).
Assessment method
Oral examination. 30 minutes (30 minutes of preparation time).
Marking scale
Primer: Rita Charon: Narrative Medicine. Honoring the Stories of Illness. Oxford University Press, 2006.
Bergur Rønne Moberg