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Corpus conversations

A recently launched University of Otago blog is providing what its co-editors describe as a forum for conversations about medicine and life.

The Corpus blog is co-edited by Professor Barbara Brookes (Department of History and Art History) and PhD student Sue Wootton (Department of English and Linguistics).

Brookes has an extensive background in medical history research and co-founded the Medical Humanities Selective Programme for third-year medical students 20 years ago.

Wootton, an award-winning poet and former Burns Fellow at Otago, has a background in physiotherapy and has embarked on a doctorate on the affinity between creative writing and medicine.

“We are both interested in taking people out of their professional silos and bridging the distance between the humanities and medicine,” Wootton says.

“The aim is to create more conversation around these issues,” Brookes adds. "We want to highlight again the art of medicine: the skill in understanding people that is so important in diagnosis, for example.”

The “digital salon”, as they describe the blog, has so far featured an eclectic mix of contributions: from book reviews and original poems and anecdotes; to opinion pieces on the benefits to doctors of studying literature; and a light-hearted “essay” on Kiwi idioms in medicine.

Brookes and Wootton say that they are very pleased with the response from contributors, subscribers and casual readers of the blog, which they are updating weekly.

The website is the first medical humanities blog in New Zealand and one of the few such international forums.

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