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Innovation in the Field

UNC Professor Combines English and Medicine in Interdisciplinary Course

Jane Thrailkill has been interested in the relationship between literature and illness, between the humanities and the sciences, since she was 18 years old.
Thrailkill is an English and comparative literature professor and a co-director of the Health and Humanities: An Interdisciplinary Venue for Exploration lab.

“The written word was my playground,” Thrailkill said. “But the summer before I went off to college, I had this incredible experience in the mountains of New Hampshire and I thought to myself, ‘wow, I want to choose a career where I can just live in the mountains of anywhere forever.’”

At that moment she wanted to pursue medicine and an English degree at Amherst College, but soon she said she became disillusioned with her peers in her science classes.

Even so, she said she never lost interest in medicine, and when she came to UNC to teach in fall 2001, she started creating interdisciplinary health-humanities classes based on her intersecting interests.

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