Instructor: Dees
MWF 12:20 PM – 1:15 PM

“In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley writes, “Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly – they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” In this course, we will examine the relationship between words, health, and medicine as we read and write about literature and scholarship spanning across the fields of medical humanities and narrative medicine, as well as literary scholarship related to those fields.

“Reading work by writers like Audre Lorde, Virginia Woolf, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Susan Sontag, we will encounter a variety of questions in our study, including: What problems do we encounter as scholars and readers when reading and writing about literature of the body and illness? How are those problems compounded for especially stigmatized illness experiences, including addiction, AIDS, mental health issues, or pandemic-related illnesses? How does engaging with the medical humanities illuminate issues of health inequality due to race, class, and gender? What about other intersectional factors, including immigration status, sexuality, medical status, ability and accessibility? How do representations of medicine reflect broader social or cultural changes, and does activism play a role in this shift? More generally, what is gained from studying literature alongside studies in medicine and the medical sciences?

“As students in this course, you will not only engage with these larger conversations about medicine, health, and the body; you will also write brief reading responses showing your intellectual engagement with course texts, compose a literary analysis (due during the midterm season) about one or more of the course texts, and complete a research project (due during finals week) that can either explore a course text or texts, or that center around outside texts related to the themes of the course. You will also write a short personal essay centered around illness, pandemic, or the body, allowing you to evaluate your personal experiences and giving careful thought to the “Reader Contract” of nonfiction writing and the ethics of nonfiction storytelling.”