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|IDST 131 - MedHum: Medicine and Mystery|
The metaphor of solving mystery is frequently used to understand and teach medicine. Throughout history, doctors and detectives have overlapped, from Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle (a physician) who created the famous sleuth Sherlock Holmes to Berton Roueché’s Medical Detectives colum in The New Yorker to Dr. Gregory House (TV show: House MD), based on Lisa Sanders’ “Diagnosis” column in the New York Times (now a Netflix series).
This connection points to a broader intersection. Medicine and mystery literature share a vocabulary of observation, fact-finding, evidence, and diagnostic reasoning. At the same time, both are reliant on narrative to construct personal, scientific, social, and cultural meaning.
Through the theme of medicine & mystery, this course will introduce students to the interdisciplinary field of medical humanities, which explores the intersection of medicine and literature, art, history, philosophy, and the social sciences. As we investigate the connections between medicine and mystery, we will ask how such narratives have shaped and are shaped by the social and cultural context of medicine.
We will use historical and contemporary sources such as literary prose and poetry, sociological and philosophical texts, patient narratives, fiction written by physicians, medical case reports, TV and film clips and podcasts.
Selected Readings & Media
♣ Arthur Conan Doyle, Collected Stories of Sherlock Holmes
♣ Berton Roueché, Medical Detectives
♣ Janet Sternberg, White Matter
♣ Harriet Washington, Medical Apartheid
♣ Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”
♣ Excerpts from Medical Humanities: An Introduction by Thomas R. Cole, Nathan S. Carlin, Ronald A. Carson (Cambridge University Press, 2015).
♣ Excerpts from The Principles and Practice of Narrative Medicine by Rita Charon, Sayantani DasGupta, Nellie Hermann, Craig Irvine, Eric R. Marcus, Edgar Rivera Colon, Danielle Spencer, Maura Spiegel (Oxford University Press, 2017).
♣ Excerpts from Health Humanities Reader by Therese Jones, Delese Wear, Lester D. Friedman (Rutgers University Press, 2016).
♣ “House M.D.” (Television)
♣ “Diagnosis” (Television)
♣ “Serial” (Podcast)
1.000 Credit hours
Schedule Types: Lecture
Interdisciplinary Studies Department