Introduction to Medical Humanities


Course Title

Introduction to Medical Humanities

Course Description

You want to be a doctor. Or, maybe you want to help people and being a doctor seemed like the best option—the most noble, the most respectable, the most gratifying. Yet, there remains an entire constellation of problems in health care that exist beyond the reach of the individual physician. These problems are socioeconomic, infrastructural, financial, political, legal, technological, practical, racial, cultural, and emotional. They entangle the patient and the practitioner. They manifest in issues of health care disparities. They become glaring in limits to one’s ability to access to health care. They creep up in narratives of medical paternalism. This introduction to the medical humanities aims to address the world of health care beyond medicine. It engages with scholars in literary studies, history, anthropology, art, science studies, sociology, philosophy, and media studies who have wrestled with many facets of medical practice. We will survey a range of topics in the medical humanities, interrogate genres of representation, and explore different research methods. The topics in this course will move in three parts. We first begin in the hospital, then enter the world of patients, and finally open up to communities of care. With each passing week, we will examine one major topic in medicine and link it a major framework in the humanities. We will interrogate both the content and form of a piece of writing, performance, or film that explores important issues in health and healing, such as discrimination, gender, illness categories, disability, economics, and religion, among others.

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MDHM 201 Introduction to Medical Humanities