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[Perspectives] Global health humanities: defining an emerging field

Since the mid-1970s, US medical students have studied biomedical science to define, diagnose, and treat disease, whilst simultaneously studying the humanities and arts to broaden and deepen their understanding of the illness experience. Medical humanities, an interdisciplinary field rooted in literature, philosophy, ethics, history, religion, and the visual and performing arts, is now an important part of training many US medical students. Joanne Trautmann’s appointment in 1972 as “the first professor of literature to hold a regular full-time faculty position in an American medical school” has been described by Anne Hudson Jones as “the beginning of literature and medicine as a recognised subspecialty within medical humanities”.