Medical Humanities PhD emphasis

PhD Emphasis Medical Humanities 2019-2020

Fall Quarter, 2019
History 230.  Early Modern Medicine
Instructor Renee Raphael

This course explores health and healing in late medieval and early modern Europe with attention to the way medical practice, practitioners, and disease circulated in an increasingly globalized world.  Sufferers and healers worked with models of the body and therapeutics very different from our own.  However, healers had to persuade patients of their skills, sufferers had to choose amongst a range of health-care options, and each sought meaning in experience of illness in ways that may not be so far from our own experiences.  The course focuses on sites of care (institutions, households, markets), conceptions of disease and health, the transmission of medical knowledge, and the experiences of patients and practitioners.  Special attention will be paid to issues of gender in relation to conceptions of the body and the role and experience of practitioners and patients.  We will read both primary and secondary readings, such as: Pablo Gomez, The Experiential Caribbean: Creating Knowledge and Healing in the Early Modern AtlanticHannah Newton, The Sick Child in Early Modern EnglandKatharine Park, Secrets of Women: Gender, Generation, and the Origins of Human Dissection, Ahmed Ragab, The Medieval Islamic Hospital: Medicine, Religion, and Charity, and Olivia Weisser, Ill Composed: Sickness, Gender, and Belief in Early Modern England

Winter Quarter, 2020
MH 200 (Required course for PhD emphasis)
Instructor: Adria Imada

Scholars in Medical Humanities and cognate fields have argued students must be trained better in “structural competency” (Metzl 2010) and social determinants of health and illness (Holmes 2012) in order to improve health outcomes and the culture of biomedicine. We are all critical stakeholders in the shaping of medicine, medical discourse, and medicalized spaces, whether as clinicians, humanists, people with contingent bodies, patients, or caregivers. This interdisciplinary graduate seminar analyses social and cultural understandings of the body, health, illness, medicine, and disease through critical theory, Ethnic and Indigenous Studies, disability studies, gender and queer studies, history of medicine, ethnography, visual studies, fiction, and memoir. How has Western biomedicine produced hierarchies of normative and non-normative bodies and demanded compliance from heterogeneous subjects? What kinds of knowledge and practices have medicine deployed to organize, categorize, and evaluate diverse bodyminds? How, too, have people interacted with medicine to produce their own understandings of “non-compliant” (Nakamura 2017) bodies, pain, and suffering? Relying on theoretical models and historical and contemporary case studies, the course explores these themes: critical histories of the body; contagion as cultural metaphor; medicine and colonial state practices; pain and suffering; queer/crip encounters with medicine; and racial-sexual hierarchies of health. 

Spring Quarter, 2020
English 210 As a Doornail? Death in the Enlightenment
Instructor: Jayne Lewis
“The fatalism by which incomprehensible death was sanctioned in primeval times has now passed over into utterly comprehensible life.”    So proposed Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer in their epochal Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944); Michel Foucault was to extend this idea in his concept of biopower in modernity as organized around the power over life rather than the right of death.  This seminar will offer a counter-proposition: if Enlightenment science generated the materialist model of existence that we have inherited—one in which embodied persons, like doornails , are matter alone—incomprehensible death simply gained a new lease on life, taking on new forms, provoking new anxieties, and masquerading as the “friend, though with the harsher face” that the early 18th-century poet Anne Finch reckoned it to be.   Just how did transatlantic cultural actors, caught between the optimism of scientifically expanded life spans and the specter of the total stoppage of a now known entity, conceive of death in the long 18th-century?  From a literary perspective (ours), how were their conceptions linked to generic transformation (elegy), crisis (the life writing of socially dead persons), and innovation (gothic romance)?  After thinking about the pivotal role that death plays in the scientific and medical writing of the period, we will disinter a number of classic elegies by and / or about Phillis Wheatley, Charlotte Smith, Aphra Behn, Jonathan Swift, and Thomas Gray; come to grips with the so-called Graveyard School of mid-century British poetry; bust the ghost of Hamlet’s Yorick as it haunts mid-century sentimental fiction;  juxtapose two plague narratives—Defoe’s proto-gothic Journal of the Plague Year and Mary Shelley’s ante-gothic The Last Man—and consider the autobiography of the West Indian slave Mary Prince as well as some of the more funereal moral essays of Samuel Johnson.  How were such works bound up—formally, affectively, and conceptually—with archaic and emergent rites of passage from one world to the next?  What happened to the memento mori?  How did social death interact symbolically with bodily death in the contexts of slavery and the subjugation of women?  Is rational enlightenment itself a form of death?  What isn’t?  How grim could the reaper really get in a period that prided itself on its ever-expanding horizons?  Appearances—and some difficult topics—notwithstanding, you will need a sense of humor for this seminar.  How else can we go on?