Literatuur en Geneeskunde

Ziekte door andere ogen/Disease through other eyes


There are several Literature and medicine meetings in VU Medical Center.

1. Twenty doctors and a writer

Four times a year, doctors from VUmc have discussions with a writer about one of his novels which is of relevance to medicine. Previously, amoung others, we have spoken with:
o    Stefan Brijs
o    Kristien Hemmerechts
o    Samuel Shem ( about ‘The House of God’)
o    David Rieff ( about ‘Swimming in a Sea of Death’)
o    Anton Valens
o    Bert Keizer
o    Tom Lanoye
o    Minke Douwesz
o    Anna Enquist
o    Ronald Giphart
o    Stine Jensen
o    Maaike Meijer
o    Hans Driessen
o    Arjan Visser
o    Peter Terrin

Contact: Prof. Dr. Arko Oderwald


2. Yearly Literature and Medicine Symposium
In 1998, the first VUmc public lecture in the field of literature and medicine was held by John Irving. In 2000 and 2001, another public lecture was organized and since 2003, the VUmc Literature and Medicine symposium is held every year in the autumn. Alongside the symposium, a book of essays, poetry and original extracts about the theme of the symposium is published, edited by Arko Oderwald, Koos Neuvel and Abel Thijs. Since 2004, the books have been published by De Tijdstroom in Utrecht.
For a summary of the previously published books, please see the publication section

Previously, the main lecture was given by:

  • 1998 John Irving, american writer
  • 2000 Rutger Kopland (Dutch physician and poet) and Martin Winckler (French physician and writer)
  • 2001 Alain de Botton (English philosopher and writer)
  • 2003 Joost Zwagerman (Dutch writer)
  • 2004 Willem Brakman (Dutch physician and writer)
  • 2005 Samuel Shem (American physician and writer)
  • 2006 Désanne van Brederode (Dutch writer)
  • 2007 Helga Ruebsamen (Dutch writer)
  • 2008 Stefan Brijs (Belgian writer)
  • 2009 Sjaak van der Geest (Dutch Medical Antropologist)
  • 2010 Kristien Hemmerechts (Belgian writer)
  • 2011 Manon Uphoff (Dutch writer)
  • 2012 Ronald Giphart (Dutch writer)
  • 2013 Miguel Bulnes (Dutch physician and writer)
  • 2014 No lecture
  • 2015 Willem Jan Otten (Dutch writer)
  • 2016 Frans Thomèse (Dutch writer)
  • 2017 Jan Siebelink (Dutch writer)
  • 2018 Arko Oderwald

The next symposium will take place in april 2020 at VUmc, Amsterdam. The theme is ‘Care’. Keynote speaker is not known yet.



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