Medicine and Western Civilization

Professor David J. Rothman

This seminar seeks to analyze the ways by which medicine and culture interact to shape social attitudes and values. To this end, it will examine notable literary and medical texts from classical antiquity to the present. Requirements for the course include extensive reading, intensive class discussion, weekly blog posts, a short paper, a final prospectus and outline, and a final seminar paper of publishable length.

The central text for the course is Medicine and Western Civilization, edited by David J. Rothman, Steven Marcus, and Stephanie A. Kiceluk. Students will be required to read these additional books: Albert Camus's The Plague; Anne Fadiman's The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down; Paul Kalanathi's When Breath Becomes Air; Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; David J. Rothman's Strangers at the Bedside; Sheila M. Rothman's Living in the Shadow of Death; William Styron's Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, and Leo Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich.

Course ID: HISTUN3911