Alvan Ikoku

Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature & Medicine
Stanford University

Alvan Ikoku works at the intersection of literature and medicine, specializing in the study of African and African diasporic literatures, twentieth-century fiction, narrative ethics, and histories of tropical medicine and global health.

He is primarily concerned with literary, medical, and public health discourses on Africa and its diasporas. His research situates these discourses within post-nineteenth-century movements in world literature and world health. And currently, as part of a book project, he studies the place of the long narrative forms, particularly the novel, in the emergence of global health as a modern medical specialty.

Prof. Ikoku has written for the World Health Organization, Small Axe, Literature and Medicine, Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics, and Virtual Mentor, the ethics journal of the American Medical Association. He has also received president’s teaching awards at Columbia and Harvard Universities.


  • Global Health & Comparative Literature: Perspectives from HIV in South Africa

    The title of this paper references five terms of specific importance to my understanding of global health humanities, as the subfield has emerged since the latter part of the twentieth century. The first and second terms—global health and comparative literature—juxtapose two domains of knowledge often held apart disciplinarily: in other words, they are considered two modern disciplines often thought of as methodologically, and even incommensurably, distinct.


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