College Of Arts and Sciences | Medicine, Culture, and You
S103 | 4004 | Woodcock, J.


Does illness change the way you think? How do doctors and nurses
cope? Is medicine today gender-neutral? What are the issues
surrounding cosmetic surgery? Is it good or bad to design a baby?
What are the politics of public health? These are the kinds of
questions we will face in this course devoted to exploring the human
side of medicine today.

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 play, and possibly some poetry. We will also see several
feature films, and students will do some reporting on medical topics
in the news and perhaps on a popular television series.
Training in oral and written interpretation is an essential part of
the course. There will probably be four one-page papers and a longer
final paper. Grades will be based on written work and daily classroom
performance. Students who take this course, besides becoming more
confident and effective speakers and writers, should finish with a
significantly enriched understanding of the cultural and personal
factors in contemporary medical issues and situations.

Beyond their usefulness in daily life, these achievements should
directly benefit students in majors from English and religious
studies to journalism, medicine, law, and business. If you are
thinking about a career in medicine, you may find this course
particularly interesting, but it is a humanities course that will be
completely accessible to non-scientists.