English 4 - Spring, 2015

Critical Inquiry and Literature

    Topic: The Literature of Medical Care

Class Information

Instructor: Roy, Bonnie
CRN: 32376
Time: MW 10:00-11:50
Location: 248 Voorhies


    This course participates in the trend towards the medical humanities that seeks to change the model of care and interaction between professionals and patients from a detached, objective ideal to one of engagement and empathy. Medical stories help caregivers to imagine and dignify patient experience, as well as to contextualize conditions and procedures of Western medicine within broader social and historical registers. We will study literary representations of medicine covering physician and patient experience, the production of medical knowledge, issues in medical ethics, and the communication styles of bodies in shifting economic, cultural, and environmental contexts. Primary literary texts will be drawn from a variety of genres and historical periods. Secondary texts will include non-fiction documents of medical history and medical research, as well as studies that address the historical participation of literature in medical beliefs and attitudes. As we build skills of literary close reading, we will ask how these skills apply to medical communication: what can paying attention to the figurative and material aspects of language teach us about how to listen to those in need of care?


    Two short papers, 30%
    One longer paper, 25%
    Homework and in-class writing, 10%
    Participation, 15%
    Final exam, 20%


    Course Reader
    Wit, Margaret Edson
    Illness as Metaphor, Susan Sontag
    Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro