Fall 2022 Undergraduate English Courses

359:209 Introduction to Health, Medicine and Literature

01  MW4  CAC   07947  JURECIC  SC-206

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/or 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 texts: fiction that ponders the possibilities and 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, of course, contagion and pandemic.

Readings may include Eula Biss’s On Immunity: An Inoculation; Margaret Edson’s play W;t, Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down; Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident in the Night-time, Ling Ma’s Severance, the film Contagion, in addition to essays by Atul Gawande, Roxanne Gay, Esmé Weijun Wang, and Ed Yong.