Fall 2019

Literature and Health Humanities

, 3 pts, GU4637

Literature & Health Human

Literature and medicine have always been in dialogue: Apollo was the god of physicians and poetry, while some of the greatest writers, such as John Keats and Anton Chekhov, were trained as doctors. In our time, literature and medicine have become ever more entwined in the burgeoning field of “health humanities” that bridges the practices of writer and caregiver.

In this lecture course, we will consider how creative literature enriches our understanding of health and illness by exploring contemporary narratives about health and medicine in a global context. We will read literary writing by physicians in genres such as the short story, the case history, the satirical novel, and the medical memoir. As we move through shifting paradigms in healthcare, we will attend to how prose fiction can excavate and illustrate conflicts in the medical encounter—power struggles between doctors and patients, science and superstition, and cultural contexts—along with the challenges of war and trauma. We will consider, too, how medical fictions create generative space for motifs of alterity—physical disability, aging, cognitive differences, and gender fluidity—in contemporary global literature in English. As we read, we will attend to how the study of literature creates a series of critical methods that can be applied to problems across the health humanities. Writers include Atul Gawande, Oliver Sacks, Paul Kalanithi, Emma Donoghue, Michael Ondaatje, Indra Sinha, Ian McEwan, and Maggie Nelson, among others. Both literature and pre-med students are invited to enroll. This lecture will particularly suit students who are interested in literature post-1800, prose fiction, social justice, and the health humanities

Section Number
Call Number
Day, Time & Location
TR 10:10AM-11:25AM To be announced
Arden A Hegele