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University of Texas University of Texas Libraries

Health Humanities

This guide is designed to support the growing interdisciplinary field of health humanities and related topics. It includes links to relevant books, scholarly journals, library databases, and other resources.

Finding Health & Illness Narratives

Finding Health & Illness Narratives

A key approach in Health Humanities is analyzing non-fiction narratives of illness and disease in literature, popular media, and film. Finding examples of these narratives and scholarship about them can be challenging. Below are some search tips. 

Remember: If you ever get stuck while searching, contact your librarian!

Use Subject Headings

Subject headings are descriptors that indicate what a book is about. In our catalog, they are linked so when you find a good one, you can find other books designated with the same subject heading. Here's an example of the subject headings for Audre Lorde's The Cancer Journals, from UT's library catalog

Screenshot of a library catalog record for the book "The Cancer Journals" by Aurdre Lorde with the subject headings in a box to indicate their location.

In this case, if you clicked on the subject heading "Breast -- Cancer -- Patients," it will provide a list of other books about those with breast cancer. This approach is helpful for finding other, similar memoirs. 

Combine Terms

Having a variety search terms can help. See the Preparing to Search page for tips on brainstorming these terms.

Once you determine some good terms, combine them with specific genres (poetry, memoir, autobiography, etc.). For example:

  • cancer AND memoir
  • illness AND poetry
  • gender AND (HIV OR AIDS) AND essay

Once you have come up with terms, try them in the library catalog or in a relevant database. Not sure what search tool to use? Try some of the databases on the Finding Articles page, and if you still need help, contact your librarian!

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Notable Health Narratives

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