The minor in medical humanities draws on courses from a variety of departments and programs, including art history, classics, history, languages and literature, music, philosophy, and gender and sexuality studies. The minor is housed in the Washington University Center for the Humanities.
The minor approaches health, disease and medical care as culturally embedded human experiences that vary across time and place. In addition to exploring health, disease and medical care as core human experiences, the program of study is designed to provide a solid grounding in the textual-historical approach essential to all humanities scholarship. The minor combines disciplinary diversity with thematic unity to engage students with a set of tightly related "big" topics and issues, including the contested meanings of health and disease; the ethical dimensions of medicine; illness narratives; debates over health and development; the role of medicine in war, empire and nation building; the relationship between religion and medicine; the exchange and friction between biomedicine and other healing traditions; and the burden of disease as it relates to gender, race and class.
Medical humanities aspires to instill the values shared by all humanities disciplines: to appreciate multiple worlds and viewpoints, to communicate clearly and gracefully, and to read and think critically. Students will emerge from the minor able to apply the insights and critical methods of literature, philosophy, history and the arts to subjects often left solely to the natural and social sciences. Its goal is to demonstrate the enduring relevance of humanistic inquiry to understanding a basic realm of human experience.
Medical humanities is an interdepartmental minor; Washington University does not offer an independent major in medical humanities.
The Minor in Medical Humanities
Total units required: 18
At least one gateway course (3 units) is required for the minor. These courses include the following:
|MedH 1640||Health and Disease in World History||3|
|MedH 130||The Art of Medicine||3|
|MedH 151||First-Year Seminar: Stories of Medicine||3|
|MedH 233F||Biomedical Ethics||3|
An additional 15 units of Medical Humanities courses are required to complete the minor: At least 12 of these units must be core courses, designated by the "CFH MH" attribute, whereas the remaining 3 credits may come from either the core or affiliate lists shown below. At least 9 units of core courses must be at the 300 level or above. Core courses include the gateway courses as well as the following:
|MedH 214||Medical French||3|
|MedH 247||First-Year Seminar: Cultures of Health in the Francophone World||3|
|MedH 248||Religion, Health, and Wellness in Modern America||3|
|MedH 3001||Philosophy of Medicine||3|
|MedH 301R||Historical Methods — European History (when offered as "The Black Death and the Plague in Europe")||3|
|MedH 3033||Religion and Healing||3|
|MedH 3041||Making Sex and Gender: Understanding the History of the Body||3|
|MedH 3044||Humors, Pox, and Plague: Medieval and Early Modern Medicine||3|
|MedH 3067||Current Topics in the History of Medicine||3|
|MedH 307||Writing and Medicine||3|
|MedH 310||From Hysteria to Hysterectomy: Women's Health Care in America||3|
|MedH 3141||The Racial and Sexual Politics of Public Health||3|
|MedH 316||Gender and Health||3|
|MedH 353||Medical Spanish||3|
|MedH 360||Trans* Studies||3|
|MedH 361||Thinking-It-Through II (when offered as as "Transplants")||3|
|MedH 366||Art and the Mind-Brain||3|
|MedH 3672||Medicine, Healing and Experimentation in the Contours of Black History||3|
|MedH 375||Medical Narratives, Narrative Medicine||3|
|MedH 3801||Ancient Greek and Roman Medicine||3|
|MedH 385||What is Medical Humanities?||3|
|MedH 391W||Literature and Medicine||3|
|MedH 39SM||Women and Crime in the Evolution of American History||3|
|MedH 399||Independent Work in Medical Humanities||-3|
|MedH 408||Disease, Madness, and Death Italian Style||3|
|Anthro 4134||The AIDS Epidemic: Inequalities, Ethnography, and Ethics||3|
|MedH 414||Gender, Religion, Medicine, and Science||3|
|MedH 420||Nature, Technology, and Medicine in Korea||3|
|MedH 4601||Historical Racial Violence: Legacies & Reckonings||3|
|MedH 4647||Ancient Madness||3|
|MedH 468||Topics in French Literature: Disability Studies, Before "Disability"||3|
|MedH 4700||Ancient Greek and Roman Gynecology (Ancient Greek and Roman Gynecology)||3|
|MedH 471||Galen's "On Prognosis": A Social History of Medicine in Second-Century Rome||3|
|MedH 474||Frankenstein: Origins and Afterlives||3|
|MedH 4881||Advanced Seminar: Mad: Mental Illness, Power and Resistance in Africa and the Caribbean||3|
|MedH 4885||Advanced Seminar: Medicine, Disease, and Empire||3|
|MedH 491||Staging Illness||3|
|MedH 4990||Advanced Seminar: History of the Body||3|
|MedH 495||PNP Seminar (when offered as "Mental Health & Mental Illness: Philosophical Questions")||3|
Core courses must also be drawn from at least two of seven different disciplinary categories: Classics & Art History; History; Languages/Literature/Culture; Medicine, Race and Ethnicity; Performing Arts & Music; Philosophy & Religious Studies; and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. (The interdisciplinary "What is Medical Humanities?" course [MedH 385] may count toward any of these disciplinary categories.) Core courses may require additional prerequisites within their home departments or programs.
Up to 3 units of affiliate courses from complementary disciplines in the sciences and social sciences (designated by the "CFH MHA" attribute) may be applied to the minor. These courses include but are not limited to the following:
|Anthro 3283||Introduction to Global Health||3|
|Anthro 3310||Health, Healing and Ethics: Introduction to Medical Anthropology||3|
|Anthro 3620||Anthropological Perspectives on the Fetus||3|
|Anthro 3626||Adventures in Nosology: The Nature and Meaning of Disease||3|
|Anthro 4033||Culture, Illness and Healing in Asia||3|
|LatAm 325||Cultures of Health in Latin America||3|
|Psych 399||Living, Dying, and Death: A Biopsychosocial Approach to Understanding the End of Life||3|
|SOC 2510||Sociological Approaches to American Health Care||3|
|SOC 2520||Inequality By Design: Understanding Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities||3|
|SOC 4511||Sick Society: Social Determinants of Health and Health Disparities in the United States||3|
Any additional affiliate courses must be approved by the minor director.
While our gateway and core courses are generally listed under the L85 MedH designation, the most up-to-date list of recent medical humanities courses and medical humanities affiliate courses can be found by searching Washington University Course Listings for the "CFH MH" and "CFH MHA" attributes or by consulting the course requirements online.
For a comprehensive overview of Medical Humanities courses in any given semester, please search the course listings for the CFH MH (Medical Humanities) and CFH MHA (Medical Humanities: Affiliate) attributes. Courses offered from other Washington University schools (including the School of Continuing & Professional Studies) do not appear in the L85 listing, and neither do our affiliate courses.
Visit online course listings to view semester offerings for L85 MedH.
L85 MedH 130 The Art of Medicine
This interdisciplinary, cross-school course at the intersection of history, visual culture and the visual arts includes a roster of notable speakers and offers students a singular encounter with western medicine from ancient times to the present day. In tandem with the history of medicine, the course examines the capacity of the arts to frame medical practice and to raise questions and influence perceptions, both positively and negatively, of medical advancements. This course is for first-year (non-transfer) students only.
Same as I60 BEYOND 130
L85 MedH 1640 Health and Disease in World History
Health and disease are universal human experiences, yet vary profoundly across time and place. Extending from ancient times to the present, this course surveys that variety from a global perspective. We will explore medical traditions from around the world, then examine how these responded to major epidemic diseases such as the Black Death. We will study the globalization of disease and the emergence of scientific medicine after 1450, then turn to the interrelated histories of health and disease in the modern era. Throughout, we will attend carefully to how the biological aspects of health and disease have shaped world history, while at the same time exploring the powerful mediating role of social, cultural, economic, and political factors — from religious beliefs and dietary practices to inequality, poverty, empire, and war — in determining the myriad ways in which health and disease have been experienced and understood. Introductory course to the major and minor.
Same as L22 History 1640
L85 MedH 214 Medical French
In this introductory course to the "Français Professionnel de la Santé" track (French for Medical Professionals), students will be exposed to medical terminology and practices as well as to health-related issues in France and the Francophone world (Quebec, Haiti, West and North Africa). Using an interactive approach based on real life situations, students will learn to perform various medical tasks such as writing a prescription, advising a patient, or presenting a humanitarian project to potential donors. Medical vocabulary and pre-professional oral and written expression will be enhanced throughout the course. Students will acquire the necessary tools to perform their tasks, preparing them for further coursework in the FPS track, the Diplôme de français professionnel de la santé, and the France for the Pre-Med study abroad program in Nice. Prereq: Fr 203D or equivalent (this class can replace Fr 204D).
Same as L34 French 214
L85 MedH 233F Biomedical Ethics
A critical examination, in the light of contemporary moral disagreements and traditional ethical theories, of some of the moral issues arising out of medical practice and experimentation in our society. Issues that might be discussed include euthanasia, genetic engineering, organ transplants, medical malpractice, the allocation of medical resources, and the rights of the patient.
Same as L30 Phil 233F
L85 MedH 247 First-Year Seminar: Cultures of Health in the Francophone World
Taught in English. This small-group seminar is devoted to the reading and study of other texts, such as films, paintings, and so on, as well as discussion and writing. Topics vary but have an interdisciplinary focus. Prerequisite: AP in English, French, or History, or permission of instructor. Does not substitute for any other French course.
Same as L34 French 247
L85 MedH 248 Religion, Health, and Wellness in Modern America
Religion, Health, and Wellness in Modern America will examine changing conceptions of health and wellness in America from the late nineteenth-century to the present. With media, artifacts, and literature drawn from the histories of medicine, religion, and capitalism, this class will cover the proliferation of alternative health regimens, the rise of the medical establishment, claims of divine healing, and the impact of market forces on wellness cultures. Course topics include the raced and gendered dynamics of care, socioeconomic status, technological innovation and media, the role of nature, health activism and radical self-care, and New Age spirituality and mental health. Special attention will be paid to how the politics of the body and its regulation intersect with religious and consumer practices in the modern wellness industry
Same as L57 RelPol 248
L85 MedH 3001 Philosophy of Medicine
Philosophy of Medicine is an investigation into what doctors know and how they know it. This course will investigate the following questions: What is disease? What is health? How do we classify disease? What counts as good evidence and good evidential reasoning in medicine? Is medicine a science? If so, what makes it distinctive as a science? What kinds of evidential roles do case studies play in medicine? How should we measure and compare outcomes in clinical trials and in systematic reviews? What is the appropriate relationship between medicine and the basic sciences or between medicine and the public health sciences (e.g., epidemiology, biostatistics, economics, behavioral science)? What role, if any, should private industry (e.g., the pharmaceutical industry, the health insurance industry) play in shaping the practice of medicine? How should we define and measure "effectiveness" in medicine? Do values inform decision making about health policy, and, if so, how? The overall goal of the course is to develop a reasoned, reflective approach to research and practice in medicine through the critical analysis of texts and case studies in the history of medicine. Students do not need a background in philosophy to take this course. This course is intended to be of special interest to pre-health professionals and to philosophy and science majors. For graduate students in philosophy, this course satisfies the seminar requirement. Extra assignments will be provided to satisfy graduate course work; students should consult the instructor for details.
Same as L30 Phil 3001
L85 MedH 301R Historical Methods — European History
This is a small-group reading course in which students are introduced to the skills essential to the historian's craft. Emphasis will be on acquiring research skills, learning to read historical works critically, and learning to use primary and secondary sources to make a persuasive and original argument. See Course Listings for current topics. Required for history majors. Preference given to History majors; other interested students welcome.
Same as L22 History 301R
L85 MedH 3033 Religion and Healing
This course explores the relationship between religion and healing through historical and comparative study of Christian, Jewish and other religious traditions. We will examine how specific religious worldviews influence conceptions of the body and associated healing practices, how states of health and disease are identified and invested with religious significance, and how religious thought contributed to and coexisted alongside the growth of modern Western medicine. While much of the course will draw on specific case studies, students will be encouraged to pursue their own interests in the area of religion and healing through final projects.
Same as L23 Re St 3033
L85 MedH 3041 Making Sex and Gender: Understanding the History of the Body
This course provides an overview of history of the body in Europe and the United States from medieval to modern times using feminist and queer theoretical frameworks. We explore the shifting authority in defining a "normal" body as the fields of medicine and science become professionalized, the cultural interaction with science and medicine in the modern era, and how aesthetics and popular perception of science inform the notion of ideal body, gender, race, sex, and sexuality in the modern era. Prerequisite: Any -100 or -200 level Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies course or permission of instructor.
Same as L77 WGSS 3041
L85 MedH 3044 Humors, Pox, and Plague: Medieval and Early Modern Medicine
This course examines how people thought about, experienced and managed disease in the medieval and early modern periods. Students will consider developments in learned medicine alongside the activities of a diverse range of practitioners — e.g., surgeons, empirics, quacks, midwives, saints, and local healers — involved in the business of curing a wide range of ailments. Significant attention will be paid to the experiences of patients and the social and cultural significance of disease. Major topics include: the rise and fall of humoral medicine; religious explanations of illness; diseases such as leprosy, syphilis and plague; the rise of anatomy; herbs and pharmaceuticals; the experience of childbirth; and the emergence of identifiably "modern" institutions such as hospitals, the medical profession, and public health. The focus will be on Western Europe but we'll also consider developments in the Islamic world and the Americas.
Same as L22 History 3044
L85 MedH 3067 Current Topics in the History of Medicine
Mental health — its diagnosis, social implications, and experience — is a central and increasingly visible part of the practice of medicine. This course explores "madness." How have different societies explained and responded to states of mind, behavior, and emotion judged to be unreasonable? What role has medicine played in framing understandings about mental disorders and their management? During this course we will engage these questions, charting the shifting experience of mental illness roughly from the Middle Ages to the present. Themes covered include: religious models of madness; humoral medicine and disorders such as melancholy; the pre-modern madhouse and the emergence of the modern asylum; the history of psychiatry; the insanity defense in the courtroom; patient autobiography; gender, race, and mental health.
Same as L22 History 3067
L85 MedH 307 Writing and Medicine
Same as L13 Writing 307
L85 MedH 310 From Hysteria to Hysterectomy: Women's Health Care in America
This course examines issues surrounding women's health care in America. While the scope is broad, the major emphasis will be on the 19th and 20th centuries. Through an examination of popular writing, scientific/medical writing, letters, diaries and fiction, we will look at the changing perceptions and conceptions of women's bodies and health in America.
Same as L77 WGSS 310
L85 MedH 3141 The Racial and Sexual Politics of Public Health
Race and sexuality have long been concerns of public health. From hygienic campaigns against Mexican immigrants in early-1900s California to the 1991 quarantine of Haitian refugees with HIV at Guantanamo Bay, race and sexuality have proven crucial to how society identifies health and, by extension, determines who is fit to be a citizen. This interdisciplinary course interrogates the intersections of race, sexuality, and medicine, discussing how each domain has been constitutive of the other in the American context. Via feminist and queer theorizing, we will examine the political and economic factors under which diseases, illnesses, and health campaigns have impacted racial and sexual minorities over the last two centuries. An orienting question for the course is the following: How has the state wielded public health as a regulatory site to legitimatize perceived racial differences and to regulate ostensible sexual deviations? Through primary and secondary sources, we will likewise explore the various forms of "health activism" undertaken by these very same targeted populations. Themes to be addressed will include the medicalization of racial and sexual difference; activism both in and against health institutions; and the roles of race, class, gender, sexuality, and disability in contemporary health issues. Case studies include the Tuskegee syphilis experiment; the sterilization of black, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Native American women; the medicalization of homosexuality during the Cold War; and the role of mass incarceration in the diffusion of HIV. At a moment in time when access to health continues to be shaped by categories of social difference, understanding the role of public health in the normalization and subversion of racial and sexual hierarchies in the West is more pertinent than ever.
Same as L77 WGSS 3141
L85 MedH 316 Gender and Health
In this class, we will identify and study a broad range of health issues that are either unique to or of special importance to women, trans people, or people with uteruses. The interface of gender, race, and class and its impact on an individual's access to and experience in the health care system will be central concerns. Topics will include discussions of breast cancer, mental health, intimate partner violence, reproductive issues (from menstruation to childbirth to menopause), as well as the politics of health and gender, gender differences in health status, the effect of employment on health, and the history and impact of gendered health research. If you have taken L77 316 Contemporary Women's Health you may not register for this course. Waitlists controlled by Department; priority given to WGSS majors. Enrollment capped at 20.
Same as L77 WGSS 316
L85 MedH 353 Medical Spanish
Designed for future medical professionals, this course will provide students with a complete vocabulary and the cultural sensitivity necessary for treating Spanish-speaking patients. While the main focus is oral/aural communication, written exams, varied readings, and some research are required. Volunteer work is recommended for enrolled students. Advanced students will be given priority. Prerequisite: Span 307D or Span 302.
Same as L38 Span 353
L85 MedH 360 Trans* Studies
Trans* Studies is an interdisciplinary course that uses material from History, Psychology, Sociology, Law, Medicine, Gender Studies, Media Studies and Trans* autobiographies to critically analyze cisgender privilege in U.S. American culture. The course traces the historical development of the concept of gender and the history of Trans* activism to critically analyze how Trans* visibility and collective organizing shape contemporary politics. Any of the following are suitable (but not required) courses to take before enrolling in this class: L77 100B, L77 105, L77 205 or L77 3091.
Same as L77 WGSS 360
L85 MedH 361 Thinking-It-Through II
Thinking-It-Through courses provide students with long views of contemporary issues. Cross-cultural perspectives from the French and Francophone world, past and present, help us to think creatively about the most pressing problems we face today. The subject -- which is of social, cultural, and/or political interest -- will change each semester. Beginning with a watershed moment in history, students will consider how the topic in question evolved over time by interpreting related forms of cultural representation and expression in order to develop an informed critical perspective on current debates. Prerequisite: French 308 or In-Perspective.
Same as L34 French 361
L85 MedH 366 Art and the Mind-Brain
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the bearing of cognitive science on the perception and understanding of art. This interest has roots in tradition: historically, art, aesthetics, and vision science have often been linked. But the growth of knowledge in cognitive science has opened up new opportunities for understanding art and addressing philosophical questions. The converse is also true. The production, perception, and understanding of art are human capacities that can shed light on the workings of the mind and brain. This course considers questions such as: What is art? How do pictures represent? Does art express emotion? Why does art have a history? Prerequisites: one course in Philosophy at the 100 or 200-level, or permission of the instructor. Priority given to majors in Philosophy & PNP.
Same as L30 Phil 366
L85 MedH 3672 Medicine, Healing and Experimentation in the Contours of Black History
Conversations regarding the history of medicine continue to undergo considerable transformation within academia and the general public. The infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment serves as a marker in the historical consciousness regarding African Americans and the medical profession. This course taps into this particular evolution, prompting students to broaden their gaze to explore the often delicate relationship of people of African descent within the realm of medicine and healing. Tracing the social nature of these medical interactions from the period of enslavement through the 20th century, this course examines the changing patterns of disease and illness, social responses to physical and psychological ailments, and the experimental and exploitative use of black bodies in the field of medicine. As a history course, the focus is extended toward the underpinnings of race and gender in the medical treatment allocated across time and space — the United States, Caribbean and Latin America — to give further insight into the roots of contemporary practice of medicine.
Same as L22 History 3672
L85 MedH 375 Medical Narratives, Narrative Medicine
Narrative medicine is an approach grounded in the recognition that patients live and communicate their embodied experiences as stories. This approach underscores the need for medical practitioners to cultivate skills of observation, analysis, storytelling, and cultural competency -- skills that are traditionally developed in humanities coursework. In this course, students will hone their competencies in observation, close reading, and written and oral expression in French through readings of medical narratives. Texts will include Jean-Dominique Bauby, "Le Scaphandre et le Papillon"; Molière, "Le Medecin Malgre Lui"; Michel de Montaigne, "De L'Experience"; Marguerite Duras, "La Douleur"; and excerpts from works by René Descartes, Honoré de Balzac, Émile Zola, Olivia Rosenthal, and Philippe Lançon. Whether considering works of art, patient testimonials, or classic works of literature, we will observe carefully, describe and understand what we see, tell stories, and attend to the details of the stories that others tell. Prerequisite: French 308 or In-Perspective.
Same as L34 French 375
L85 MedH 3801 Ancient Greek and Roman Medicine
This course introduces students to the practice and theory of medicine in the ancient Mediterranean, beginning in Egypt and continuing through Greece and Rome. It ends in the Middle Ages. Greco-Roman medicine will be our focus. How was disease understood by practitioners and, as far as can be reconstructed, by laypeople? What form did surgical, pharmacological, and dietetic treatment take? What were the intellectual origins of Greek medicine? The social status of medical practitioners? How was medicine written and in what terms did its practitioners conceive it?
Same as L08 Classics 3801
L85 MedH 385 What is Medical Humanities?
What is medical humanities? What are its core questions and methods? When and how did the field emerge? To whom does it matter and why? These questions will ground our exploration of recent work in medical humanities. We begin with readings chosen by the instructor to illuminate various humanistic methods (e.g., historical, literary, philosophical) and their approach to recurrent topics and problems in the field (e.g., the doctor-patient relationship, illness as experience, the social construction of disease, health inequality, medicalization). In the second part of the course, students will be guided in co-writing and co-teaching the rest of the syllabus. Students will finish the class able to provide their own definition of medical humanities and to explain the field's origins and concerns as well as why and to whom the field matters. Enrollment preference will be given to students who have already declared the minor in medical humanities.
L85 MedH 391W Literature and Medicine
Same as L14 E Lit 391W
L85 MedH 399 Independent Work in Medical Humanities
This designation can be used for independent studies and reading courses in medical humanities. It requires prior approval from the director of the medical humanities minor.
Credit variable, maximum 3 units.
L85 MedH 39SM Women and Crime in the Evolution of American History
Crime happens. Property is damaged and stolen, lives are lost, and law, order, and justice evolves. This course taps into that ongoing reality by centering the herstorical evolution of female crime, highlighting women and girls of many kinds across time and spaces of America. It moves across centuries (through to the contemporary period) probing within and far beyond icons to unveil the gendered nature of crime and moreover to empower students to see and trace everyday female criminality that ignited across racial, ethnic, as well as lines of age in the winding path of American history. While men and boys dominate public and even scholarly expectations of crime and carceral conversations for many, students will leave this course with a far more rigorous understanding of the herstories gained by taking serious the types of crimes that women and girls acted out by exploring: robbery, assault, infanticide, larceny, murder, arson, prostitution, serial killers, and drug-related crimes. As well as going further to probe state and federal power through carceral medicine - showing the interior world of female prisoners, physicians, the movement of females into "asylums'' and mental state hospitals, incarceration based on "insanity" while going further to examine births, illnesses, and death of women and teens in jails and prisons. Students will be likewise pushed to engage America's timeline of race, gender, and executions that includes women and girls. Racialized and gendered criminality, law enforcement violence, healthcare and deathcare in prisons are critical public health issues that students can better understand the complicated evolutions by deeply probing the herstorical lives of women, girls, and crime through this course. Students will read, learn, dig up the past, and write to ensure a future of herstory and remembrance.
Same as L22 History 39SM
L85 MedH 408 Disease, Madness, and Death Italian Style
Italian literary history teems with representations of illness, insanity, and death. From the ghastly 1348 plague that frames Boccaccio's "Decameron" to the midday madness of errant Renaissance knights and from 16th-century tales of poisoning and 19th-century Pirandellian madmen to the contemporary scourge of mafia killings, disease, madness, and death are dominant facts of reality, points of view, symbols, and cultural characteristics of Italian poetry and prose. This course undertakes a pathology of these tropes in Italian literary history and seeks to understand their meaning for the changing Italian cultural identity across time and the Italian peninsula. We will read primary literary texts and view excerpts from films alongside articles focused on the cultural history of medicine, religion, and criminal justice. Taught in English. No final.
Same as L36 Ital 408
L85 MedH 414 Gender, Religion, Medicine, and Science
Have you ever wondered why some topics are argued using religion as a guide, while others may approach the topic from what is perceived as a strictly scientific point of view? This course explores how and why gender and sexuality tend to be at the center of debates that pit Medicine and Science against Religion. Using feminist and queer scholarship, this course explores five hundred years of rhetorical strategies related to defining, or regulating, gender and sexuality. We will consider how much debates have changed from sixteenth-century Europe to 21st century United States by asking when, why and how either Medicine & Science or Religion influenced social thought and laws. Finally, we will consider how, and if, contemporary debates on vaccines are either part of the long history of debating bodily autonomy (as is the case with the other topics addressed in class), or if the conflict between religion, medicine and science in the modern era is new and distinctly different from past rhetorical strategies. Prerequisite: Introduction to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Same as L77 WGSS 414
L85 MedH 418 Sexuality and Gender in East Asian Religions
In this course we will explore the role of women in the religious traditions of China, Japan and Korea, with a focus on Buddhism, Daoism, Shamanism, Shinto and the so-called "New Religions." We will begin by considering the images of women (whether mythical or historical) in traditional religious scriptures and historical or literary texts. We will then focus on what we know of the actual experience and practice of various types of religious women — nuns and abbesses, shamans and mediums, hermits and recluses, and ordinary laywomen — both historically and in more recent times. Class materials will include literary and religious texts, historical and ethnological studies, biographies and memoirs, and occasional videos and films. Prerequisites: This class will be conducted as a seminar, with minimal lectures, substantial reading and writing, and lots of class discussion. For this reason, students who are not either upper-level undergraduates or graduate students, or who have little or no background in East Asian religion or culture, will need to obtain the instructor's permission before enrolling.
Same as L23 Re St 418
L85 MedH 420 Nature, Technology, and Medicine in Korea
This course examines the cultural history of modern Korea with a focus on science, technology, and medicine. From about 1500 to the present, a number of hugely consequential things happened in Korea that have been called revolutionary-or what historians dub "early modern" and "modern." Confucian kings planned large-scale projects that changed nature, rustic scholars made inventories of flora and fauna, colonial Koreans became biologists, nurses, and "Edisons," and in North and South Korea, new professionals created distinctive-and in some cases, globally-competitive-regimes of knowing, making, and healing. Students will interrogate these developments as an opportunity to revisit the history of modernity, which has been told predominantly from the perspective of the West. What does it mean to be "modern" in Korea? How did that modernity intersect with Korean science, technology, and medicine? Students will find and articulate their own answers by writing the final research paper. Recommended to have taken Korean Civilization or equivalent course that provides basic working knowledge of Korean history. Course also counts as an EALC capstone course. Prerequisite: junior level or above or permission of instructor.
Same as L81 EALC 420
L85 MedH 4601 Historical Racial Violence: Legacies & Reckonings
There is growing awareness of the legacies of historical racial violence in the United States and a related increase in reckoning efforts. Area histories of enslavement, lynching, and other racial terror and dispossession relate to inequality, conflict, and violence in the same places today. These 'haunting legacies' include heart disease and other health disparity, homicide rates, white supremacist mobilization, and corporal punishment in schools. Meanwhile, many communities and institutions are moving to acknowledge and address legacies of historical racial violence in various ways. This course combines seminar-style readings and writing on legacies of racial violence with a practicum component, where individual students or groups of students will conceptualize and develop interventions intended to clarify and disrupt legacies of racial violence, facilitating contemporary reckoning. The practicum will explore and support a broad range of interventive efforts, including public policy measures, original research projects, archival development, commemorative efforts, and a related array of mediums, including visual art, design, film, digital projects, and other creative approaches.
Same as L90 AFAS 4601
L85 MedH 4647 Ancient Madness
In this course we will ask what madness meant in Greek and Roman culture. We will find reading strategies that are sensitive both to ancient evidence and to the ethical demands of talking about, evaluating, and categorizing people treated as mad. While we will concentrate on literary (particularly tragic and epic), philosophical, and medical texts, we will also look at visual representations and evidence from ritual and cult. An important part of our project will involve tracing the afterlife of classical ideas: the history of melancholia will ground this aspect of the course. Finally, we will consider how antiquity informs psychoanalysis (Oedipus, Antigone, Narcissus), and how ancient madness might partake in a critique of contemporary understandings of mental illness.
L85 MedH 4700 Ancient Greek and Roman Gynecology
This course examines gynecological theory and practice in ancient Greece and Rome, from about the 5th century BCE to the 3rd century CE. The task is complicated by the nature of our evidence. Our surviving textual sources are authored exclusively by men, mainly physicians. They have a pronounced tendency to conceptualize the health and disease in terms of a single body, which was male by default. They distinguished female bodies from male primarily in reproductive aspects. How exactly did these physicians understand diseases of women and, as far as can be recovered, to what extent were their views represented among laypeople? What form did treatment take and what was the social status of practitioners, both that of our extant sources and female practitioners whose voices have largely been silenced by the textual tradition? We will approach the study of Greek and Roman gynecology, first from the perspective of Greco-Roman medical views, then from the point of view of contemporary Western biomedicine. The limited nature of our sources will allow students to read the majority of surviving material. These primary readings will be accompanied by current secondary scholarship that explores these fascinating and often frustrating questions about the female body in ancient medical thought. All primary materials will be available in English translation. There will be an option for students with a background in Greek or Latin to form a satellite reading group. The course does not assume familiarity with Greek and Roman medicine more broadly.
Same as L08 Classics 4700
L85 MedH 471 Galen's "On Prognosis": A Social History of Medicine in Second-Century Rome
Galen of Pergamum was a Greek physician, philosopher, and intellectual active throughout most of the second century CE. He was also a voracious reader and writer of Greek literature; his surviving work far exceeds the extant output of any other Greek author before the third century CE. In this course, we will be reading Galen's treatise "On Prognosis," in which he recounts his career in the city of Rome, from his arrival in the early 160s through his tenure as an imperial physician to at least the emperors Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. While ostensibly a medical account, "On Prognosis" has little to say on technical medical issues. Rather, Galen's story is a carefully constructed professional autobiography that pivots from searing denouncements of Roman life to tense public performances of medical expertise and finally to intimate case histories of Rome's rich and powerful. The text presents us a fascinating window through which to examine not only the social practice of elite medicine in Rome of the second century but also the complicated experience of a Greek intellectual navigating the corridors of the Imperial court. Course goals include improving accuracy and speed in reading Greek prose, acquiring greater familiarity with intellectual discourse of the Imperial Period, and training in methods of research and writing.
Same as L09 Greek 471
L85 MedH 4881 Advanced Seminar: Mad: Mental Illness, Power and Resistance in Africa and the Caribbean
This seminar explores the history of mental illness in Africa and the Caribbean during the colonial and post-colonial periods. We will be guided by the following questions: What is mental illness? How do social, cultural and political realities affect how mental illness is defined? Should mental illness always be analyzed within a specific cultural context? How did psychiatry factor into the efforts of European colonizers to maintain social order in their colonies? How have colonized people resisted colonial notions of madness? What is the place of religion in these histories? How did mental institutions change after the end of colonial rule and how was post-colonial Caribbean and African psychiatry harnessed in service of decolonization? The course will pay special attention to how European colonial powers employed similar understandings of blackness across regions as they formulated ideas concerning the black populations they deemed "mad" across Africa and the Caribbean.
Same as L22 History 4881
L85 MedH 4885 Advanced Seminar: Medicine, Disease, and Empire
This course examines the history of medicine in connection to the politics of colonialism and empire-building, spanning the 16th century through the 20th century. Topics covered include: epidemic disease outbreaks (e.g., smallpox, cholera, malaria); the role of science and medicine in endorsing the "civilizing missions" of empires; tropical climates and tropical diseases as western constructs; tensions between western medicine and indigenous healing practices and beliefs; ideas of race and racism in science and medicine; modern advancements in sanitation and public health and their implementation overseas; and the historical roots of the modern global health movement.
Same as L22 History 4885
L85 MedH 491 Staging Illness
"Suddenly some force struck him in the chest and side, making it still harder to breathe, and he fell through the hole and there at the bottom was a light." This quotation, from Tolstoi's story "The Death of Ivan Ilych," offers an example of how artists have employed serious or life-threatening diseases as a means of illuminating both physical suffering and spiritual rebirth. Even as it invades the body and isolates us from our fellow man, illness may offer opportunities for spiritual growth and renewal, serving as an apt metaphor for human survival in times of extremis. In her brilliant essay, "Illness as Metaphor" (1978), Susan Sontag takes issue with how illnesses like tuberculosis were misunderstood or even romanticized during the 19th century in works like Dumas's "Camille" and Puccini's "La Boheme." During the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 1990s, American artists — particularly theatre artists, whose communities were decimated by the disease — were forced to consider how this global pandemic impacted their lives, especially at a time when the term AIDS was not even mentioned by the President of the United States. In conjunction with the Performing Arts Department's 25th anniversary production of Tony Kushner's extraordinary play, "Angels in America, Part 1, Millennium Approaches," this new course examines how disease has been a focal point of artistic inquiry over the course of centuries. By examining works that are focused on illness throughout history, the seminar offers both a deeper understanding of and context for Kushner's masterpiece and the AIDS crisis, and it considers how illness has always been an important subject for the investigation of what it means to be fully human.
Same as L15 Drama 491
L85 MedH 495 PNP Seminar
Subject varies per semester. Not always offered as writing intensive, refer to individual semester listing. Prerequisite: A 300 level Philosophy course (Phil/PNP 315 is recommended); and PNP Major standing or approval of Instructor.
Same as L64 PNP 495
L85 MedH 4990 Advanced Seminar: History of the Body
Do bodies have a history? Recent research suggests that they do. Historians have tapped a wide variety of sources - including vital statistics, paintings and photographs, hospital records, and sex manuals - to reconstruct changes in how humans have conceptualized and experienced their own bodies. We will pay particular attention to the intersection of European cultural history and history of medicine since 1500. This course fulfills the History major capstone requirement as an Advanced Seminar.
Same as L22 History 4990