Medical Humanities (MEDH)

MEDH 101  Introduction to the Medical Humanities  (3 credits)

This course investigates the human experience of health and illness as well as the values and beliefs behind the practice of healing. The course will examine how disease and treatment are defined in different global traditions, including Greco-Arabic Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Western Biomedicine. Students will also examine the importance and efficacy of empathetic care on the part of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. The course will introduce students to interdisciplinary approaches to questions of health and illness, drawing on the methods and perspectives of narrative medicine, medical anthropology, bioethics, and the sociology of illness. Students will explore such contemporary healthcare issues as patient advocacy, disabilities rights, end-of-life care, reproductive autonomy, genetic counseling, health law, healthcare policy, and alternative medicine. Meets Gen Ed - Interdisciplinary Studies.

MEDH 204  Philosophical Issues in Biomedical Ethics  (3 credits)

Prerequisite(s): PHIL 100 or PHIL 102 or PHIL 106. A study of moral decision making in regard to specific moral problems arising in such areas of contemporary medical research and practice as experimentation on human subjects, euthanasia, abortion, information rights of patients, and eugenic sterilization. Mutually Exclusive with PHIL 204.

MEDH 301  Medicine, Literature and Illness  (3 credits)

Prerequisite(s): PHIL 204 or MEDH 204 or approval of the Medical Humanities Program Director. This course explores how writers portray the experience of illness in works of fiction, drama, and poetry. Students will read a selection of such classics as Shelley’s Frankenstein, Tolstoy’s Death of Ivan Ilyich, Mann’s Death in Venice, Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, and Camus’s The Plague. The course also investigates the fundamental role that narrative plays in our understanding of health and illness. Students will examine nonfiction ranging from patients’ memoirs and advocacy narratives to the embedded narratives in the files, charts, and other records resulting from the clinical encounter. The course will explore a range of subjects over which both literature and medicine have a stake, including representations of disease and dying, the nature of madness and depression, medical authority and patients’ rights, and the importance of empathy in the treatment of illness. Meets Graduation Writing Requirement for majors in Medical Humanities.

MEDH 350  Healing in America: History, Narrative, and Performance  (3 credits)

Prerequisite(s): PHIL 204 or MEDH 204 or any 200-level ENGL course or any 200-level AMSD course. This interdisciplinary course examines the racial, religious, class-based, and gendered dynamics that impact healing beyond doctor-patient relationships in the U.S., broadly defined as “American” to accommodate cross-border identities. Performances related to health help us understand the relationship between communal identity and healing, legacies of discrimination, and the policies and prejudices that affect private health matters in pan-American history and culture. Students analyze scientific studies and the performative aspects of healing in medical narratives, memoirs, fiction, drama, film, and other visual media. Students will leave the course with a greater understanding about the ways in which collective care, communal engagement, and access shape the history, narrative, and performance of healing in America.

MEDH 391  Special Topics in the Medical Humanities  (3-9 credits)

Prerequisite(s): ANTH 205 or MEDH 204 or PHIL 204. Special topics related to Medical Humanities. Topic announced each semester. May be repeated for a maximum of 9 credits.

MEDH 491  Capstone Project in the Medical Humanities  (3-6 credits)

Prerequisite(s): MEDH 301 or permission of the Medical Humanities Program Director. This course provides students with the opportunity to engage in a faculty‐supervised project tailored to their interests and career goals. Students may conduct original research on a problem related to any Medical Humanities subfield, including (but not limited to) medical anthropology, bioethics, the history of medicine, the sociology of illness, narrative medicine, and health‐related religious studies. Alternatively, students may provide program or research assistance in a healthcare institution or non‐profit health‐related organization. Examples might include placement in organizations providing patient advocacy, social services, addiction treatment, palliative care, hospice care, or medical translation. Students may also observe primary care providers at work in doctor’s offices, clinics, or hospitals. Students will gain practical experience in academic or professional writing. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits.