Marcia Childress

Marcia Day Childress

Associate Professor of Medical Education (Medical Humanities)

5361 Barringer Building

Office Hours: By appointment

20th C British, Medical Humanities, Narrative Medicine


Ph.D. English Literature, University of Virginia, 1996
M.A. English Literature, University of Virginia, 1976
B.A. English Literature, Michigan State University, 1970


Marcia Day Childress directs Programs in Humanities within the School of Medicine’s Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities, including humanities and arts courses and co-curricular activities for medical students. She is founding co-director of the Hook Scholars Program, a four-year track for selected medical students who wish to make the humanities, bioethics, or arts part of their pathway into medicine. She also directs the Medical Center Hour, the School of Medicine's weekly public forum on medicine and society.
Professor Childress teaches medical school courses in Literature and Medicine and Images of Medicine, directs senior medical student research in humanities and the arts, and co-directs Clinician's Eye, an art gallery-based visual analysis workshop for medical students and other health professionals. Together with a law professor, she leads an Interprofessional Seminar in Ethical Values and Professional Life for medical, law, and graduate architecture students. In the College of Arts and Sciences, she teaches an upper-level undergraduate English course, Narratives of Illness and Doctoring.
Her scholarly interests include literature and medicine, narrative medicine, the moral formation of the physician, and uses of the arts in professional education. She writes on literature and the arts in medicine, medical education, and end-of-life care. Her recent publications and presentations address Virginia Woolf’s illness experience and metaphoric language, Samuel Beckett’s short plays, Donald Hall’s poetry, and the paintings of Ferdinand Hodler.
She has twice been a research fellow at the Centre for the Advanced Study of Bioethics, University of Münster, Germany. At UVA, she is a faculty fellow of the Center for Global Health and the School of Architecture’s Center for Design and Health and a faculty advisory committee member of the Institute for the Humanities and Global Cultures.
A charter member of the medical school's Academy of Distinguished Educators, Professor Childress received a Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching and the School of Medicine's David A. Harrison III Distinguished Educator Award. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, she was elected to the national medical honor societies Alpha Omega Alpha and the Gold Humanism Honor Society and to UVA’s Raven Society. Active in university service, she chaired the UVA Faculty Senate and the President's Advisory Committee on Women's Concerns. In 2009, she received UVA's Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award.