Collections > UNC Chapel Hill Undergraduate Honors Theses Collection > "Follow me without noise, and be of strong heart": Understanding the Truth of War Through The Combat Medical Narrative
pdf

Introduction: “open, doors of time! open, hospital doors!”: The Combat Medical Narrative When writing about war, authors often seek to clarify complex issues through a particular perspective. A survey of selected war literature from the late nineteenth century to the present illustrates some of the techniques seen in different works on similar themes. Because war is so intimately connected with the issues of life and death, an effective method for demonstrating its consequences is the combat medical narrative. Works of literature inspired by and in response to war trauma offer a way of understanding the complex issue of human conflict. Authors of such medical narratives invite their readers to follow them through the hospital doors or walk out onto the battlefields to hold the bandages and listen to the screams of wounded soldiers. Stories about the wounded and those who care for them provide insight like no other war narrative by confronting death—the most devastating effect of combat. While scholarship on the literature of war is extensive—some of which I will cite in the following essay—the analysis I offer of the combat medical narrative is fairly unknown. The recent academic interest in the field of medical humanities represents an exciting moment for researchers to explore an emerging field and connect the humanities with real world social concerns in a practical way. The goal of this interdisciplinary field is to re-humanize the medical profession by studying the ways in which literature and narrative forms can encourage positive communication between patient and provider. I view the combat medical narrative as a subgenre of war literature, deserving of its own scholarship and analysis on the basis of the potential benefits that further research can offer to the field of medical humanities.