2:30p-3:45p TR (25) 3 cr.
COAS INTENSIVE WRITING SECTION.
TOPIC: LITERATURE AND MEDICINE
This course is devoted to a consideration of cultural issues,
interpersonal situations, and problems of values or ethics that are
characteristic of modern medicine. Students from any discipline who
have an interest in medicine are encouraged to consider the
Being sick and healing the sick are experiences that can reach far
beyond technical and narrow professional matters to engage our
emotions, our metaphysics, and our moral and ethical sense. In this
course we will explore these non-scientific dimensions of medicine by
reading and discussing a selection of literary and autobiographical
works that emphasize the cultural and experiential aspects of illness
and medical practice. Most of our authors are doctors or patients, and
some are both.
Our discussions will move from the concrete situations presented in
the reading 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 recovery, cultural images of the
physician, varieties of patient-physician relationships, and patients'
and physicians' rights and responsibilities. Students should finish
the course with a broad awareness of important non-technical factors
in medical situations, and with some clarity about the place of these
factors in effective health care.
The reading list, while not final, will contain most of these works:
Virginia Axline, Dibs: In Search of Self; Norman Cousins,
Anatomy of an Illness; Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the
People; Perri Klass, A Not Entirely Benign Procedure; Leo
Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Illych; Joyce Wadler, My
Breast; William Carlos Williams, The Doctor Stories; and a
writing handbook, Diana Hacker's A Pocket Style Manual. We will
read a number of shorter works, for which there will be a duplication
charge of three to five dollars, and we will see one or two films with
This course is a COAS intensive writing section, and writing will be a
major part of the semester's work. There will be four papers of
1000-1500 words, several shorter written exercises, and a takehome
final exam. For grading purposes, each paper will be worth about 15%,
the exam 20%, and exercises and class contribution 20%.