Education Programs: Humanities Initiatives at Hispanic-Serving Institutions

Period of Performance

1/1/2014 - 12/31/2016

Funding Totals

$100,000.00 (approved)
$99,300.00 (awarded)

Narrative in Tandem: Creating New Medical and Health Humanities Programs

FAIN: AC-50204-14

Regents of the University of California, Riverside (Riverside, CA 92521-0001)
Juliet M. McMullin (Project Director: July 2013 to August 2022)

A two-year interdisciplinary project that would contribute to the development of a new program in health humanities at a newly established medical school.

Narrative in Tandem is organized around examining narrative in the humanities and medicine through three approaches of conveying, expressing, and understanding "the symptom." "The symptom" is defined to include both medical and social conditions impacting health experiences from patient/provider to connections with individuals and communities not physically present in the encounter. Over the course of two years, participants from disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, and medicine will explore these issues through intersecting activities designed to: 1) contribute to knowledge of narrative in health and medicine; 2) develop narrative skills, including course syllabi and activities that can be applied in humanities and medical education; 3) compile seminar discussions to contribute to a larger strategy about integrating humanities and medicine; and 4) lay the groundwork for establishing a vibrant health humanities program at UCR.

Media Coverage

Where Medicine and the Humanities Meet (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Carolyn MacMillan
Publication: UC News
Date: 3/15/2016

Associated Products

An Anthropology of Graphic Medicine (Course or Curricular Material)
Title: An Anthropology of Graphic Medicine
Author: Juliet McMullin
Abstract: Course Description: The field of graphic medicine is a new and vibrant community of comics artists, humanities scholars, public health and health professionals. Graphic medicine is a term coined by physician, cartoonist, and medical humanities scholar Ian Williams and is defined as “the role that comics can play in the study and delivery of healthcare” ( 2013). Williams launched the graphic medicine website in 2007 as an effort to recognize the increasing number of illness narratives in comic form since the mid 1990s. This class will take an anthropological lens to the field of graphic medicine and the graphic narratives that constitute the material of interest for GM. Examining the intersections of the “ordinary, chronic, and cruddy” and how they are entangled in biomedical hegemonies and medical technologies in the context of late liberalism, we will consider how graphic narratives are embedded in processes of biomedicalization, how the narratives are empowering or fostering conditions of endurance or exhaustion, and what anthropology and its methods can contribute to GM. Importantly, while the medium we are examining is visual, we are particularly interested in how graphic narratives intersect with scholarly conversations in the study of illness narratives and narrative medicine.
Year: 2014
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Syllabi developed with the support of the NEH grant
Audience: Undergraduate

Life Narratives – Storytelling & the Power of Stories to Transform Thinking About the World (Course or Curricular Material)
Title: Life Narratives – Storytelling & the Power of Stories to Transform Thinking About the World
Author: Tiffany Lopez
Abstract: COURSE OVERVIEW: This is the third quarter of the CHASS First Year Experience course sequence on “Life Narratives.” Our class focuses on storytelling and the power of stories to transform our thinking about the world with attention to matters of health and wellness for both individuals and society. The core questions: What is the foundation for effective storytelling? How do stories convey the importance of a problem or situation in a way that facts and data alone cannot? Why and how do stories create such a powerful sense of connection between storyteller and audience/community? How do we create stories that might inspire personal transformation and social change? How do we tailor storytelling for various realms (live performance, video, digital media)? How do we use storytelling to communicate scholarship and research? Ultimately, as a class, how will we create a storytelling event that shares the most important lessons gained from this year’s CHASS course sequence on the study of life narratives?
Year: 2015
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Syllabi developed with the support of the NEH can be found at this site.
Audience: Undergraduate

Race, Eugenics and Life Narratives in History: Understanding the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis (Course or Curricular Material)
Title: Race, Eugenics and Life Narratives in History: Understanding the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis
Author: Dana Simmons
Abstract: Our objective this quarter is to dig into the history of race, eugenics and medicine in modern history. We will use a case study or microhistory method, whereby we will seek to deeply understand one historical event as a window onto broader contexts and questions. Our focus is the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis, which took place in Macon County, Alabama from 1932-1972. This will not be an ordinary history class. The core of the quarter will be a game: a simulation of a civil lawsuit filed in federal court in 1974 by surviving study subjects and their descendents. The first few class sessions will be devoted to understanding the historical context of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study: eugenics, racial science and racism. Then the game begins: each of us will be assigned a role to play in the simulation, and we will speak, write and make decisions in that character. Each party in the lawsuit will attempt to convince the jury and the public to decide in its favor. The outcome may or may not replicate what really happened, as we will see at the game’s end. However, the goal is not to recreate history. Rather, it is to fully immerse our selves in these peoples’ lives, their choices, their values and the world they moved in.
Year: 2015
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Syllabi developed with support of the NEH can be found on this site.
Audience: Undergraduate

Powerwriting for Medical Students (Course or Curricular Material)
Title: Powerwriting for Medical Students
Author: Goldberry Long
Abstract: Increased concern for the emotional component of doctoring has led to a revival in medical schools’ inclusion of the humanities into their curriculum. With the intention of fostering empathy, many medical schools offer reflective writing as a 3rd-year selective. Although this has shown some positive outcomes, reflective writing requires complex writing skills that many students lack. Educators may assume that students can write easily and fluently about their emotions, but such writing is a skill, not a given. Brief and late writing interventions limit success to those already inclined to the activity. Further, by focusing solely on empathy, such programs ignore the potential power of writing as a multifaceted cognitive tool. This paper will present an ongoing curriculum intervention that is aimed at fully exploiting the potential of writing to develop observational, analytical, and other cognitive skills. The program we designed, a 3-year writing program for medical students, fully integrates writing into the curriculum. This mandatory program introduces an innovative writing technique called Powerwriting to first-year students, when they use it as they learn patient documentation. During their second and third years, students use writing toward recognizing biases and long-term consequences of treatment plans. By the third year, all students are ready to use Powerwriting to reflect on difficult events, such as the deaths of patients. Moving in a scaffolded curriculum, from information processing to critical analysis to reflective exploration, our approach gives students a powerful writing tool for processing all kinds of information, from humanistic to medical.
Year: 2014
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: All syllabi developed with support of the NEH can be found at this site.
Audience: Other

NEH-Narrative in Tandem (Web Resource)
Title: NEH-Narrative in Tandem
Author: University of California, Riverside, Center for Ideas and Society
Abstract: The website describes the Narrative in Tandem project, faculty coordinators, and sponsored events.
Year: 2014
Primary URL:

Signs and Symptoms: Medicine is Humanities (Conference/Institute/Seminar)
Title: Signs and Symptoms: Medicine is Humanities
Abstract: Our two-day conference is designed to foster cross-disciplinary scholarship and student education in medicine and the humanities. Our conversations will focus on medical narratives and approaches to the pursuit of healing and the applied practice of doctoring. The conference will feature three keynote talks by external speakers, presentations from our medical students, and work from our own faculty. All sessions are open to the public as an outreach to the community.
Date Range: October 13-14, 2016
Location: Unveristy of California, Riverside
Primary URL:

The Body in Western Art: Antiquity to Present (Course or Curricular Material)
Title: The Body in Western Art: Antiquity to Present
Author: Jeanette Kohl
Abstract: This course introduces students to vital questions on the role of the human body and face in Western Art, from Antiquity to the present. It addresses the per se interdisciplinary nature of body images, profane and sacred, in different media and art forms, thus familiarizing students with a broad range of subjects,artworks, and cultural practices and thought patterns. Its chronologically arranged themes foster both the students' sense of historical differences and developments as well as changing notions of the human body and its 'meanings' - from the visceral to the virtual, as metaphor and matter, and as subject and object in visual representation. The course familiarizes students with central ideas of what it means to be human, beyond the Cartesian dichotomy of body and mind, and it will help them to critically evaluate the intellectual and cultural concepts behind different forms of body images. The course is art historical but also includes interdisciplinary components and overlaps with Religious Studies, Theatre Studies, History and the History of Medicine, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Psychology.
Year: 2016
Audience: Undergraduate