Martha Montello, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

  • Associate Professor, Department of History and Philosophy of Medicine
  • Director, Writing Consult Center

Department of History and Philosophy of Medicine
MS 1025, KUMC
3901 Rainbow Boulevard
Kansas City, KS 66160

(913) 588-7040 -- department
(913) 588-7060 -- fax
(913) 588-7432 -- office

Education and Training

  • Cornell College, A.B. in English
  • University of Maryland, M.A. and Ph.D. in English

Research, Teaching, and Service

My scholarly research examines the relationship between literary studies and the moral aspects of illness and clinical medicine. Stories Matter: the role of Narrative in Medical Ethics, co-edited with Rita Charon (Routledge, 2002), examines the many ways that narrative methods of analysis and interpretation are transforming the work of medicine and ethics. The contributors are philosophers, literary scholars, psychologists, and physicians who offer new understandings of the implications of stories for the ethical practice of medicine. The book's double attention to theory and practice provides both clear conceptual content and a practical guide to using narrative ethics in the service of patients and their families. The doctor patient relationship starts with a story. Doctors' notes, a patient's chair, the recommendations of ethics committees and insurance justifications all hinge on written and verbal narrative interaction. The "practice" of narrative profoundly affects decision making, patient health and treatment and the everyday practice of medicine. In this edited collection, the contributors provide conceptual foundations, practical guidelines and theoretical considerations central to the practice of narrative ethics. In other publications, I have been investigating how concepts in narrative approaches to clinical ethics affect patients’ experiences of illness and physicians’ capacities in healing.

In medical education, my main efforts are in the area of biomedical ethics.  I am co-course director for Introduction to Clinical Medicine, a required course for third-year medical students that focuses on issues in medical ethics and professionalism.  I also lecture on key topics in medical ethics for first and second-year medical students.  With colleagues in the Department of History and Philosophy of Medicine, I facilitate a student medical ethics group.  A colleague in Family Medicine and I are in the process of organizing medical student group that focuses on humanities topics and medicine.  With colleagues on the Hospital Ethics Committee, I participate in ethics case conferences for residents in both Family Medicine and Internal Medicine.

For faculty in the School of Medicine, I teach Writing Workshops that focus on the skills needed for scientific and medical writing for publication. I also teach writing skills for research groups participating in grants in several departments.   In addition, I administer an editing service for faculty and researchers as they prepare grant proposals and manuscripts for publication.

In my professional service, I work as a review editor for Perspectives in Biology and Medicine and serve as a reviewer for six journals, including Literature and Medicine and Journal of Medical Humanities.


Select Publications

Stories Matter: The Role of Narrative in Medical Ethics, ed. Rita Charon and Martha Montello (New York: Routledge Press, 2002).

Anne D. Walling and Martha Montello. “O Tell Me the Truth about Love,” Journal of Family Medicine, 2002. 34:506-7.

Martha Montello and John Lantos. “The Karamazov Complex: Dostoevsky and DNR Orders,” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Spring 2002, 190-200.
“Reading Experience: Jodi Halpern’s From Detached Concern to Empathy,” Journal of Clinical Ethics, Winter 2003, Vol. 14, No. 4, pp. 286-289.

Martha Montello. “Novel Perspectives on Bioethics,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 13, 2005, pp. B6-8.

Martha Montello. “Confessions and Transgressions: Ethics and Life Writing,” Hastings Center Report, Vol. 36, No. 2, March-April 2006, pp. 46-47.
Shapiro J, Coulehan J, Wear D, Montello M. “Medical humanities and their discontents: definitions, critiques, and implications.Academic Medicine. 2009 Feb;84(2):192-8.

Martha Montello “Middlebrow Medical Ethics,” Hastings Center Report, July-August 2010, 20-22.

Martha Montello, “Being There,” Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care, April 2011, 109-110.

Last modified: Apr 01, 2016