Jennifer Tuttle, Ph.D., Dorothy M. Healy Professor of Literature and Health, has published an article in the Journal of Medical Humanities with co-author Cathleen Miller, M.A., M.L.S., curator of the Maine Women Writers Collection.
The article, “Unruly Voices: Artists’ Books and Humanities Archives in Health Professions Education,” draws upon Tuttle and Miller’s experiences teaching UNE students using unique materials held in the Maine Women Writers Collection.
A key source for the article is the work of Tuttle’s students over the years in her advanced English course Writing and Women’s Health.
The article focuses on the work of Martha A. Hall, whose artists’ books explore her experiences living with breast cancer and encountering the medical establishment. Artists’ books are a hybrid genre of art created through a fusion of book and sculpture.
Tuttle and Miller argue that Hall’s work exemplifies artists’ books’ unique potential to instill in health professionals the empathy, compassion, and ethics that are central to the medical humanities.
Health-related artists’ books by patients such as Hall’s not only provide access to the patient’s perspective, but require active engagement on the part of the reader. Tuttle and Miller assert that these artists’ books reframe the encounter with the patient’s body so as to shift students’ understanding of their role as health professionals and of their own embodied experience as human beings.
The essay, therefore, illustrates the particular uses of artists’ books for medical humanities and the value of humanities archival collections to health sciences education.