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Medical humanities is a rapidly developing field of inquiry that brings together a diverse set of concerns ranging from the ethical, the artistic and the more broadly socio-cultural. Its purpose is to create synergy and cross communication between disciplines that, despite their impact on each other, may  remain isolated and unexamined. The field of medicine and its associated practices, traditionally conceptualised as a discrete category - part of the natural sciences - straddles many disciplinary domains, and, as such, stands to benefit from the contextualisation that medical humanities has to offer.
We as PhD students (session of 2023) at the Institute of English Studies, University of the Punjab, felt that the medical humanities not only speaks to our experiences as individuals and as members of our communities, but also provided us, as academics, with a fertile area of exploration wherein we could engage with a field usually cordoned off to students of literature. We felt that our diverse set of backgrounds and interests opened up a host of channels to conduct research that analysed the field of medicine from a critical theory lens.
Featured here are six articles that are based in the medical humanities but approach the medical sciences, in each instance, from a distinct theoretical perspective. Hooria Liaqat’s work, for instance, analyses Nawal El-Saadawi’s The Hidden Face of Eve, a critical, nonfiction account of the status of Muslim women in the Arab world, to navigate the ways in which women’s reproductive health is controlled and regulated by cultural and political discourses. While Maryam Nawaz studies the transformative power of narrative therapy in the moving autopathography, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, investigating the emotional and psychological impact of narrating the tale of illness by an ailing author.
Abdul Aziz traces the Bakhtinian notion of novelisation in Oliver Sacks' narrative of neurological case history, highlighting how Sacks’ narrative is an amalgamation of scientific and narrative language.
Nida Ahsan’s work focuses on Derek Walcott's epic poem, Omeros, theorising the symbolic significance of the “wound” as both a physical trauma and historical burden. Her work critiques the phenomenon of social ostracisation engendered by disease and disability.
Muhammad Umer Khan’s paper traces the development in the representation of disability in children’s fiction by comparing Susan Coolidge’s classic, What Katy Did, with its modern retelling, Katy, by the renowned writer of children’s literature Jacqueline Wilson. He argues that Wilson’s account of the experiences of a disabled child shifts attention from the traditional literary trope that presents disability and disease as metaphors of moral and spiritual decay, and sheds light instead on the body itself along with the vicissitudes of navigating physical and emotional spaces in ableist environments.
Finally, Sajjad Mahmood’s work looks into the strategies adopted by the WHO in trying to effectively communicate and spread awareness regarding Covid-19 among people, especially employing multimodal visual methodologies in keeping with the principles of graphic medicine.
This collection will hopefully provide readers a sense of the scope of the medical humanities as far as possibilities and points of access to the field available, and the avenues of scholarship it has on offer.

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