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When Writing Cuts Deep: The Rhetoric of Surgical Short Stories

  • Chelsey Bartlett Stanford University


This paper defines a new short story genre under the broad umbrella of medical narratives: the surgical short story. The essay identifies the specific characteristics of surgical short stories as the presence of suture theory, the use of suture theory to contract the narrative gap, the use of precise surgical terms, and the placement of surgery at the center of the narrative. The author deconstructs five short stories in light of these characteristics to identify them as examples of the genre. This genre is significant in that it holds the potential to bridge a two-way gap of misunderstanding between doctors and their patients concerning medicine and its goals

Author Biography

Chelsey Bartlett, Stanford University

Chelsey Bartlett will graduate from Stanford University in June 2014 with a major in Human Biology and a minor in Philosophy. She currently volunteers as a tutor for underprivileged youth in Palo Alto. Chelsey plans on attending medical school after she graduates to pursue a career as a surgeon.

How to Cite
Bartlett, C. (2015). When Writing Cuts Deep: The Rhetoric of Surgical Short Stories. Young Scholars in Writing, 9, 106-116. Retrieved from