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This panel from the 2012 Toronto Comics & Medicine conference was moderated by Shelley Wall.
First up is Steven Bergson, an administrator in the Research Department of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and Vice-President of the Ontario chapter of the Association of Jewish Libraries. He also maintains three blogs on the subject of the representation of Jews and Israelis in comix, including this one.
Of his presentation, “From Ivanhoe to Rex Mundi: Jews and Medicine in Comic Books, Comic Strips, and Graphic Novels” he writes,
Although the number of examples is quite small, a content analysis of certain comics can provide insight into six areas which have been overlooked by comix scholars: the humourous use of the Jewish doctor stereotype, the portrayal of Jews as patients, the portrayal of Jews as healers, the portrayal of Jews as victims of Nazi doctors, the portrayal of Jewish contributions to medicine (by non-physicians), and the portrayal of Jewish medical ethics.
You can find the titles and images from all the comics depicting Jewish doctors/medicine that Steven discusses in this Flickr photo pool.
Next up is Jeffrey Monk, a Penn State Hershey pediatric medicine intern, with his presentation, “A ghost of an idea: A reflection on my comic adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” for the medical humanities.” He writes,
I am a lifelong comic enthusiast, but with no experience as a comics creator. My process of devising a graphic story began with a single idea: use the widely known “A Christmas Carol” as the backbone for my tale, but adapt it to speak to a medical audience. Early on in the process of writing my script, I discovered a quote from Charles Dickens, wherein he referred to the theme of his story as “the ghost of an idea” which, he hoped, would “pleasantly haunt the reader.” I decided to use empathy as the central idea of my story and strove to create a narrative where this idea would haunt the central character, as well as the reader. I wanted to show examples of the importance of communication, both verbal and nonverbal, in displaying empathy and facilitating a relationship between physician and patient. After acquiring new skills in art and learning much about the creation process, I produced an eight page story that, I believe, achieves my goals. In my story, Dr. Richard Charles, a doctor with no sense of empathy for his patients, student, or nurse, is visited by the Ghosts of Medicine Past, Present, and Future. Each Ghost shows Dr. Charles an example of how important empathy is to a healthy doctor-patient relationship. In the end, when Dr. Charles sees his future self as a patient receiving no empathy from his physician, he finally learns from his experiences and makes an important decision to visit a patient he had formerly neglected.
Jeffrey’s full comic, and many more Penn State medical student comics, can be seen here.
The final presenter on this panel is Lorenzo Servitje, a first year PhD student in English at the University of California, Riverside. He holds a BA from California State University, San Bernardino, where he studied English and Biology. His professional interests pertain to medical discourse in cultural and literary studies with an emphasis in addiction studies. Of his presentation, “Empathy in the gutter: Participatory delusion in graphic adaptation of Shutter Island” he writes,
“Empathy in the Gutter” explores the ability of the graphic adaption of Shutter Island to engender empathy for psychotic illness. Using Scott McCloud and other critics’ understanding of closure and reader participation, I argue that the graphic adaption of Shutter Island gives the reader an opportunity to experience delusion, along with its brief moments of clarity. The implications of this work suggest that the graphic novel format contains the potential for practical use within medical humanities. It conveys what film, the DSM-IV, mental health pamphlets, and first-hand accounts cannot: what it is like to experience delusion.
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