Spring 2016 Undergraduate English Courses: Special Topics
359:209 Introduction to Health, Medicine, and Literature
01 TTH6 CAC 17175 JURECIC HC-S120
In the 21st century, disease seems to belong to the clean, well-lighted place of fact and biology. And yet, illness and medical treatment take place in culture and are complicated by language, history, economics, and politics. Literature about illness and medicine often explores the meeting place of science and culture, along with shifting understandings of patient and doctor, health and illness, body and mind. In this course, we’ll discuss how literature about illness and embodiment explores physical experience as well as the social and cultural environments that shape that experience. We’ll read a range of 20th-and 21st-century fiction and nonfiction: stories that ponder the limits of language, nonfiction about how different cultures define health and healing; texts that raise questions about the relationship between our brains and our selves; and narratives by physicians and patients that examine the meaning of embodied experience.
Readings may include: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Bauby); Never Let Me Go (Ishiguro); The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (Fadiman); Contagion (film, dir. Steven Soderbergh); The Anthropologist on Mars (Sacks); “Letting Go” (Gawande).