Woods Nash earned an M.P.H. and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from The University of Tennessee, where he was also a lecturer. His research examines depictions of medicine and illness in literature, especially in the works of David Foster Wallace, Cormac McCarthy, and Walker Percy. His courses explore questions related to narrative, identity, mental illness, end-of-life experiences, clinician-patient relationships, enhancement technologies, and the goals and limits of medicine in U.S. culture. His poems have appeared in medical journals and elsewhere.

Dr. Nash was previously a Postdoctoral Research Fellow from 2014 to 2016 with the McGovern Center and is now faculty at the Honors College of the University of Houston in the Medicine and Society Program.


Master of Public Health
University of Tennessee
Doctor of Philosophy
University of Tennessee


Publication Information

Selected Publications

Albert Camus’s The Plague: Lessons for Medicine (an edited collection under contract with Kent State University Press, Literature and Medicine Series, scheduled for publication in 2017)

“Imagining Contexts for Mental Illness,” Journal of Medical Humanities (guest editor for this forthcoming special issue)


“News Madder Yet: Sources and Significance of Cormac McCarthy’s Portrayals of a State Psychiatric Hospital in Child of God and Suttree,” The Cormac McCarthy Journal 13, no. 1 (2015): 72-85

“The Moral Courage of Nursing Students who Complete Advance Directives with Homeless Persons” Nursing Ethics: An International Journal for Health Care Professionals. Prepublished May 14, 2015. doi: 10.1177/0969733015583926 [first author, with Sandra J. Mixer, Polly M. McArthur, and Annette Mendola]

“Narrative Ethics, Authentic Integrity, and an Intrapersonal Medical Encounter in David Foster Wallace’s ‘Luckily the Account Representative Knew CPR,'” Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 24, no. 1 (January 2015): 96-106

“Indigenous Health’s Godlike Nemesis: Mountains Beyond Mountains as Vector for the ‘Health’ of the Rich and Powerful,” Catalyst: A Social Justice Forum 4, no. 1 (2014)

“Searching for Medicine in Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer,” Literature and Medicine 31, no. 1 (Spring 2013): 114-141

Essays and Poems

“Petting Zoo at Lakeshore Mental Health Institute: Photograph, 1977” (forthcoming in Journal of Medical Humanities)

“Paul, Sent by the Super,” Journal of the American Medical Association 314, no.13 (October 6, 2015): 1405

“The Toaster,” Bellevue Literary Review 15, no. 1 (Spring 2015): 132

“Commentary on Jack Gilbert’s ‘By Small and Small: Midnight to Four A.M.” Academic Medicine 90, no. 3 (March 2014): 312-13

“Searching for a Pulse,” Annals of Internal Medicine 161, no. 6 (September 16, 2014): 460

“Close to the Flowers: Notes from a Tanzanian Orphanage,” The Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine 3, no. 2 (Fall 2013) []

Complete list of publications