Fall 2021 Undergraduate English Courses

359:209 Introduction to Health, Medicine and Literature

01  TTH 3:00-4:20    14793  JURECIC  ONLINE

In the 21st century, disease seems to belong to the clean, well-lighted place of fact and biology. And yet, in the past year, the confusion and disorder the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear the many ways in which illness is embedded in culture and complicated by language, history, politics, economics, and race and ethnicity. Literature about illness and/or medicine often explores the intersection 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 writers explore the meaning of illness and physical experience. We’ll read a range of 20th-and 21st-century texts, including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. We’ll consider the possibilities and limits of language; the cultural history of pandemics, the ways different cultures define health and healing; the relationship between our brains and our selves; and narratives by physicians and patients.

Readings may include:

Margaret Edson’s Wit; Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down; Atul Gawande’s “Letting Go”; Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time; Ling Ma’s Severance; Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation; Oliver Sacks’s “An Anthropologist on Mars”; Esme Weijun Wang’s The Collected Schizophrenias.

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