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Humanities Spotlight


Audrey reading audrey bookaudrey book


‘My business, aside from the mere physical diagnosis, is to make a different sort of diagnosis concerning–patients–as individuals’.

The Practice

William Carlos Williams

prescription padAudrey Ruan, a third-year pre-med student at Emory University, working toward a double major in English and Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology, was researching alongside Assistant Professor Sarah Higinbotham at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book Collection just days before Emory moved online in Spring 2020.  Audrey was studying the papers of William Carlos Williams, who was both a physician and renowned American poet who believed that both science and poetry were necessary to successful outcomes in patient treatment. 

While at the library, Audrey discovered a prescription pad in Williams’ vast collection onto which he had hurriedly sketched out a theory of how science and poetry work together. It had never been published. Audrey transcribed the manuscript, consulted with WCW scholars on its originality, wrote a framing analysis, and published it in the British Journal of Medicine’s Medical Humanities Blog. According to their website, Medical Humanities presents the international conversation around medicine and its engagement with the humanities and arts, social sciences, health policy, medical education, patient experience and the public at large.” Audrey’s published work highlights the vital role of the humanities in both research and professional fields