The Art of JAMA: One Hundred Covers and Essays from the Journal of the American Medical Association

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9780815109945: The Art of JAMA: One Hundred Covers and Essays from the Journal of the American Medical Association
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From the 1880s until the 1960s the weekly covers of The Journal of the American Medical Association displayed only a table of contents. On April 20, 1964, the JAMA cover featured a reproduction of Jan van Eyck's St. Jerome in His Study, a painting chosen to highlight the content of the issue, which was continuing medical education. Since then the covers of JAMA have been adorned by well-recognized as well as newly appreciated works of art. In the 1970s, M. Therese Southgate, MD, became the guardian of this tradition. The art that graces the covers of JAMA and the accompanying essays have provided physicians with not only a refreshing pause in a busy day but often a later topic of conversation among their spouses and children. Often the covers find their way to elementary and high school classrooms, where they are discussed in art appreciation classes. For years, JAMA readers have been urging Dr. Southgate to assemble the covers and essays into a book.
The Art of JAMA is the first such collection and features 100 covers chosen from those that were published from 1974 to 1987. Each selection is accompanied by Dr. Southgate's straightforward and fact-filled discussion of the artist and the work. Her essays describe the background of the artist and the circumstances under which the work was completed, followed by commentary on the work itself plus any personal insights.

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About the Author:

M. Therese Southgate, MD, was born in Detroit, Michigan, and earned an undergraduate degree at the College of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois, majoring in chemistry. Set on a career in journalism, she became an editorial assistant for a weekly chemistry news magazine in Washington DC. Five years later, she decided to pursue a medical degree at Marquette University School of Medicine (now the Medical College of Wisconsin) in Milwaukee.

After completing a general rotating internship at St. Mary's Hospital in San Francisco and achieving medical licensure in California, Dr. Southgate found a way to combine both loves - medicine and journalism - when she accepted a senior editor position at The Journal of the American Medical Association in 1962. She became deputy editor of JAMA in 1974 and on December 16 of that year wrote her first essay.

When she was first asked to assume full responsibility for selecting the art covers, Dr. Southgate was more than a little anxious because she had had no formal training in art and even less of an acquaintance with art museums. She approached the task in the same manner used to learn medicine: slowly, progressively, and thoroughly. "Students attend lectures, read journals, and study textbooks. Then they see the patient. I decided to apply the same process to understand art. I attended lectures, read art journals, and studied art books. I also began to haunt the museums, like students walk the wards, seeing the same paintings over and over in different lights and even sometimes in difference locations. For me, seeing the painting in a museum was like seeing the patient."

Semiretired since 1988, Dr. Southgate continues selecting the covers and writing the essays weekly. In addition to her responsibilities for JAMA, she has led a discussion group on art and medicine for medical students in the ethics program at Northwestern University medical School. She also lectures for medical societies and hospitals, museums, and community groups and has been featured in television programs, including a monthly segment about the covers of JAMA Medical Rounds (CNBC). She and the JAMA art covers have also been featured in newspapers nationwide.

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