Project Narrative Summer Institute: July 4 - July 15, 2016

The Project Narrative Summer Institute (PNSI) is a two-week workshop at The Ohio State University in Columbus, OH that offers faculty and advanced graduate students in any discipline, from institutions worldwide, the opportunity for an intensive study of core concepts and issues in narrative theory. This summer's PNSI will run from July 4 to July 15, 2016, led by Project Narrative core faculty James Phelan and Jared Gardner, with the theme "Narrative Medicine across Genres and Media." In addition, the Institute will benefit from the presence of Rita Charon, the pre-eminent scholar-practitioner in the field, on July 13 and 14. Attendees should seek funding from their home institution for the Institute's tuition of $1,500; this does not include housing, but Project Narrative will help attendees find reasonable accommodations.


About this year's theme:

Narrative Medicine is an exemplary instance of the Narrative Turn, the move by disciplines outside of literary criticism and even outside the humanities to give greater importance to the role of narrative in their domains.  As scholars in these other disciplines have turned to narrative theory to aid their revisionary efforts, they have both drawn on prevailing narratological wisdom and called attention to gaps, overly strong claims, and other phenomena that highlight the need for revisions to the theory.

In Narrative Medicine, the turn has been focused on reforming medical practice: how does reclaiming the centrality of narrative to the processes of illness, diagnosis, treatment, and recovery (or the impossibility of recovery) change the way both practitioners and patients experience those processes?  What happens to medical practice when patients are approached as people with stories rather than lists of symptoms?  Does narrative competence improve medical competence, and, if so, how?  

This focus on practice and people also feeds back into the project of narrative theory. To what extent has the field unwisely displaced the mind and body of the storyteller and his/her audience with theoretical tools designed to provide quantifiable, mappable, and universal structures?  What kinds of stories arise out of the experiences of mental and physical illness that existing narrative theory is not well-equipped to handle?  What happens to narrative theory when the endpoint of working with it is not the construction of new tools or new interpretations but practical consequences in the lives of patients and medical practitioners?  

In PNSI 2016, “Narrative Medicine across Genres and Media” we will take up these and other questions in connection with a wide range of narratives and narrative theory.  Above all, we will explore the complex interplay among medicine, narrative, and narrative theory that constitutes the lifeblood of Narrative Medicine.


To apply:

Applicants should send a CV, a short statement of interest (no longer than a single-spaced page), and one letter of recommendation to Project Narrative by March 25, 2016. Applications will be reviewed promptly after the deadline. If applicants need a decision before then, to meet funding deadlines, the co-directors will consider special requests for early action.

Applications can be emailed to or sent by post to the following address:

421 Denney Hall
Attn: Project Narrative
164 W 17th Ave.
Columbus, OH 43210


Please email with any questions.