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Graphic medicine: comics as medical narrative

Abstract

Among the growing number of works of graphic fiction, a number of titles dealing directly with the patient experience of illness or caring for others with an illness are to be found. Thanks in part to the Medical Humanities movement, many medical schools now encourage the reading of classic literature to gain insight into the human condition. Until recently, the medium of comics (the term is used in the plural to refer to both the physical objects and the attendant philosophy and practice surrounding them) has received little attention from healthcare scholars, even though some authors argue that graphic fiction is, in fact, a form of literature. This paper suggests that it is time that the medium was examined by healthcare professionals and studies some acclaimed comic works. Drawing on the principles of narrative medicine, this paper will ask whether comics and graphic novels could be used as a resource for health professionals, patients and carers.

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