Lakshmi Krishnan

Lakshmi Krishnan earned her MD from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and her DPhil (PhD.) in English Literature from the University of Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. Her dissertation was on the transgressive poetics and prose practices of Victorian poet A.C. Swinburne and his relationship to genre. She completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Duke University, where she was also a Faculty Affiliate at the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities, & History of Medicine. She is currently a fellow in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Institute of History of Medicine. Additionally, she practices as a hospitalist on the Johns Hopkins Hospital Inpatient Service.

Lakshmi is writing a cultural and intellectual history of diagnosis and detective practices that takes place in the 150 years leading up to World War II in the Anglo-American context, a period formative for contemporary Western medicine. It uses detective practices as an analytic framework, and examines detection and diagnosis as interpretive methods which dovetail at critical historical moments. Her book covers texts ranging from the detective stories of Edgar Allan Poe to American doctors training in the Paris Clinics, the Gothic genre and alternative views of the diagnostic imagination in England, curricula of early forensic medicine courses at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Golden Age and Harlem Renaissance detective stories written between World War I and World War II. This work has clinical relevance in responding to emerging disease or medical mystery on a global scale, the diagnostic process in the face of new technologies, and the immediate problem of diagnostic error in clinical practice.

More broadly, she is engaged with the relationship between medicine and the humanities writ large and the ways in which this interaction can expand the analytic reach of both fields. Her research emphasizes deploying the tools of literary and historical criticism to examine medical issues, and developing an interpretive framework for a future-oriented medical humanities. She is particularly interested in the ways in which such transdisciplinary work can broaden the canon and give voice to the unvoiced in medical, literary, and historical contexts.

Her literary and medical humanities writing has appeared in Modern Language Review, Victorian Literature and Culture, Victorian Poetry, Journal of Brontë Studies, and The Lancet, among others.

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