Can a diagnosis have an argument? Is disease a story we tell ourselves? Does the language of medicine influence experiences of health and illness? In this course, we will explore such questions using a range of written, visual, and material texts concerning the what (biology, anatomy, pathology) and the how (clinical training, bedside manner, diagnostic imaging) of medicine. We will learn how the medical model came to dominate other approaches to illness and healing, and critically examine how language working to sustain and contest the status quo.
Images are often strategically paired with words to create compelling arguments. In the medical field, images perform both clinical and rhetorical work. With this in mind, we will apply the tools of critical analysis to write about visual sources of information such as paintings, films, and photographs. Through dissecting exam-room conversations and pulling apart texts like Greys Anatomy (both the book and the TV series), we will discover key strategies physicians and patients use to make sense of suffering, disease, and each other. Based on your own scholarly investigation, you will craft an expository research paper about a topic related to health, illness, or medicine medicine.
Through in-class activities involving role play, experimentation, debate, and Play Doh, you will gain a new appreciation for the art of expository writing and the craft of revision. The course even comes with a guarantee: no matter what you choose to major in in college, you will never look at a waiting room the same way again!