The word narrative seems omnipresent in our contemporary world, having escaped from an obscure corner of literary studies to accrue power in social sciences, in popular culture, in politics, and throughout the humanities. One early definition of the word is Barbara Herrnstein Smith’s: narrative is “someone telling someone else that something happened” (B. Smith 1981, 228). Narrative has become a health humanities keyword because central events of health care occur when a person or group gives an account of ill or good health to another person or group, whether in a private conversation in a clinical encounter or a virally spreading social media story of trauma or illness. Such health-care fields as narrative medicine and reflective practice propose that the telling of a patient’s or community’s situation begins not only the factual report of a health matter but the discovery of the matter itself (Charon et al. 2017).

This essay may be found on page 139 of the printed volume.

Works Cited
Permanent Link to this Essay