Defining the Medical Humanities: Three Conceptions and Three Narratives

Howard Brody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


The definition of 'medical humanities' may be approached via three conceptions-the humanities as a list of disciplines, as a program of moral development, and as a supportive friend. The conceptions are grounded by linking them to three narratives-respectively, the history of the modern liberal arts college; the history of Petrarch and the studia humanitatis of the early Renaissance; and the life of Sir William Osler. The three conceptions are complementary, each filling gaps in one or more of the others. Getting clearer on a definition of 'medical humanities' is practically important if this field is to take its rightful place within health professions education and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Medical Humanities
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Humanities
  • Medical humanities
  • Osler
  • Petrarch
  • Studia humanitatis
  • William

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy


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