Literature and Medicine: Reading and Writing About Illness and Healing
Illness, recovery, and healing are universal human experiences and, therefore, often prevalent themes in great literature. In this class, we read and discuss selections of both fiction, like William Carlos Williams’s story “The Use of Force,” and nonfiction, such as Walt Whitman’s and Louisa May Alcott’s journals of nursing during the Civil War and Fanny Burney’s harrowing account of surgery without anesthesia. The course covers Susan Sontag’s classic work Illness as Metaphor, contemporary essays by Oliver Sacks, short fiction by Joan Leegant, and poetry by Jo Shapcott, as well as works by other writers and poets. There will be discussion and opportunities to reflect on your own experiences in occasional responsive writings.
You'll Walk Away with
- Increased cultural literacy
- Familiarity with themes of physical health in literature
- The curious and creative
- Professionals who use critical thinking