Narrating chronic heart disease in contemporary British and American writing, 1980-present 

Year of award: 2019


  • Laura Donald

    University of Glasgow

Project summary

Cardiological treatments since the 1980s have approached heart disease primarily as a chronic condition. Contemporary biomedical communication about the heart excludes the organ’s socio-cultural and emotional significance, while literature remains focused on the pathos of hopeless cases or the dramatic intensity of the heart transplant, neither of which are now typical patient outcomes.

I will examine post-1980s writing about heart disease and its treatments, considering the value and appeal of anachronistic heart disease stories and the typical contemporary patient experience. I will consider the potential impact of literature in real life and work with patients to co-produce work that communicates their experiences of chronic heart disease.

The challenges of portraying modern-day chronic heart disease contribute to poor public awareness and exacerbates the emotional impact of a diagnosis of heart disease. By considering the representation of chronic heart disease in writing, I aim to encourage and enable people with heart disease to share their life stories. This will increase public awareness of the realities of the disease and improve the patient experience.