Literatuur en Geneeskunde

Ziekte door andere ogen/Disease through other eyes

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Another way of looking at illnesses

By investigating the meaning of medicine in society, Amsterdam UMC  looks beyond merely performing its key tasks. The department of General Practice and Elderly Medicine has a small section that is  concentrating on the relationship between literature and medicine, by looking at the way in which illnesses, medicine, patients and medics are portrayed in novels, poetry, autobiographical stories and movies. Writers are good at observing medical practice and the culture in which that practice takes place. The description of that is therefore valuable for doctors as well as for patients: they often provide additional and surprising insights. This website is divided into an ‘Activities’ chapter (in which all projects are listed that have been finalized and that are currently ongoing) and a ‘Databases’ chapter (in which all databases are listed which have been or are being developed in the fields of literature, movies and documentaries, poetry, biographies of illnesses and art in a medical context).


The activities in the field of Literature and Medicine are mainly sponsered by VU Medical Center and the Pieter van Foreest Foundation.


At the moment, only the

  • Novels and stories
  • Films, tv series and documentaries
  • Images of Medicine
  • (Books and articles) About literature and medicine

databases are available in English.

The database novels and stories is searchable by keywords and by author. At the moment 150 novels, stories and autobiographies from 114 different authors have been made available. Keywords give also access to citations from the novels in the database. At the moment, 947 citations are available. Last update: June 23, 2021.

The database Films, tv series and documentaries started in April 2020. The entries from the Dutch side are being translated. 240 have been added. We are hoping to add on the tenth of each month 15 more, we have more than 250 in stock, already published on the Dutch side. You can search by keyword and title. Last update: September 11, 2021

The database Images of Medicine is a modest digital art gallery with visual art about illness and health, but still under construction. You can find more images in the Dutch side.

The database About Literature and Medicine is meant for researchers. There are many books with essays about literature and medicine, or about a certain general topic in the field of literature and medicine. These books are gathered in this database, with a short description and a pdf of the contents table. Furthermore, many articles about literature and medicine are gathered in this database. At the moment 10 books and 969 articles are available. In the month of October 2021 we will make more books available, translated from the Dutch side. Last update: April 30, 2020.

In the future, more databases will be made available:

  • Poetry and Medicine
  • Pathographies

In the Poetry and Medicine database, poems about disease will be gathered, as far as copyright rules make that possible. We are looking for an enthusiastic person to help us with this database.

Dutch and English

The English website is based on the Dutch website, but in the English version, the information which is only interesting for a Dutch public is left out. The Dutch site is being translated bit by bit, so the information in the English site is also less at the moment. Over 300 books entries still have to be translated. When using the databases you may switch from English to Dutch when you click on the Dutch flag  in the right hand top. You can return to English by clicking on the British flag.

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