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  • Editor's Preface:Of Torches, Traditions, Pastures, and Pride
  • Maura Spiegel (bio) and Rita Charon (bio)

This double-sized issue of Literature and Medicine proudly marks the journal's anniversary of twenty-five years in print. This celebratory issue is not only the largest we have published in our tenures as editors-in-chief, it is also our last, as, with its completion, we turn the editorship of Literature and Medicine over to Charles Anderson at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Having edited the journal since 2000, we have witnessed the growth of our field in these seven years. By now, it seems, Literature and Medicine has reached readers and authors in such diverse fields as trauma studies, cultural memory studies, psychoanalysis, cinema studies, human rights studies, and activist journalism. We have seen a steady increase in the number and sophistication of submissions, reflecting the good work of our associate, senior consulting, and contributing editors in attracting submissions, and reflecting also the increasing urgency, in both clinical and literary circles, of questions about text and identity, body and self, suffering and witness, and narrative and health.

This is also the tardiest issue of our journal, and we ardently hope its delay will be compensated by the length and breadth of what is herein contained. In contemplating how best to honor the twenty-fifth anniversary of this groundbreaking journal, the members of the editorial board, all leaders in this still-young field, sought to mark the occasion by taking stock, a quarter century in, of where we are at this very moment in this growing and diversifying field. Looking around the room, we decided to begin that process by simply going around the table and listening to what each of us was currently working on. As the descriptions unfolded, we realized that much of the diversity, the convergences and migrations of current work in literature and medicine was represented right there in the room. Hence, this collection of essays [End Page vii] by almost all of the members of our editorial board comes as a kind of sounding of our field—as well as a tribute. Many of the board members submitted their most current work. In some cases—certainly my (RC) essay on what Henry James teaches clinicians about telling belongs to this category—the work is in its germination phase and is still evolving. In other cases, for example Suzanne Poirier's "Medical Education and the Embodied Physician," it is part of a longer project that has been many years in the making. Two essays—Sayantani DasGupta's and mine (MS) coauthored with Arthur Heiserman—emerge from new ventures into the methods and concerns of cinema studies to inspect from this fresh vantage point aspects of the clinical encounter not otherwise available for view. Martha Stoddard Holmes creates a new genre, blending autobiographical journaling with activist journalism, to address the inside and the outside of illness experience, co-terminously with the inside and the outside of the human body. Her attentiveness to how we imagine the lives of our bodies or the limits of our physiological self-knowledge intersects with Catherine Belling's essay on hypochondriacal reading, which we wrested from her hands, refusing to heed her pleas of "not yet" because the work is so good, so smart, so provocative, and so true that we refused to let any other journal get it first. Charles Anderson's critical examination of Stones for Ibarra becomes an extended meditation on the deepest levels of signification of time and illness and, in the end, of time in life. Jonathan Metzl invites as coauthor for his essay historian and internist Joel Howell, a longtime medical humanities associate of ours, to brood on the implications of representations of health and illness in the marketplace. Tod Chambers turns a neglected corner in bioethics to probe the phenomenon of heterosexual insistence in the cases of bioethics, finding deep within the textual record a striking lacuna in sight and, by necessity, thought that occludes attention to gay and lesbian bodies and concerns.

In taking the collective decision to devote a portion of this issue to the work of the journal's editorial board, we...


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