English | Literature and Public Life
L240 | 2195 | Woodcock
L240 2195 WOODCOCK
Literature and Public Life
11:15a-12:30p (25) 2 CR.
COAS INTENSIVE WRITING SECTION.
TOPIC: LITERATURE & MEDICINE
This course is devoted to the study of literary and critical works
that feature the situations, issues, and problems of values or
ethics that are characteristic of modern medicine.
Being sick and treating the sick are experiences that can reach far
beyond technical and narrow professional matters to engage our
emotions, our moral and ethical sense, and our personal and
professional identity. In this course we will explore these things
by studying a selection of works by doctors, patients, and other
observers of medicine. Our materials will be true and fictional
stories, a few essays, a play, and possibly some poetry. We will
also see several films, and students will do some reporting on
medical topics in the news and also on a popular television series.
Our discussions will move from the concrete situations presented in
the readings to consideration of the personal, social, and ethical
questions these experiences raise for patients and medical
professionals. Some likely areas of discussion: the personal and
social meanings of illness and healing, images of the physician,
varieties of patient-physician relationships, and patients' and
physicians' rights and responsibilities. We will have several
health professionals as visitors.
The goal of our discussions will be not so much to come to final
positions on these topics as to explore them, to come to understand
what is involved in such discussions and in what ways they can be
informed by readings in the humanities. Students should finish the
course with a critical awareness of important non-technical factors
in medicine and a practical understanding of the place of these
factors in effective health care.
The readings will probably include most or all of the following
books and a collection of shorter readings: Lance Armstrong, Itís
Not About the Bike; Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People; Susanna
Kaysen, Girl, Interrupted; Joyce Wadler, My Breast; and William
Carlos Williams, The Doctor Stories. We will also see most or all
of the following films: The Doctor, The Waterdance, and Miss Eversí
This course is a COAS Intensive Writing section, and writing will be
a major part of the semester's work. There will also be some quizzes
on basic mechanics, grammar, and usage, and one or two exams
combining identification of major passages and several short
essays. Written work will determine about 60% of the final grade,
the exam(s) 20%, and exercises and class contribution the final 15%.