English 472

English 660: Graduate Seminar--Women, Literature, Health, and Healing

Reading Schedule

Course Description
The rapidly expanding field known as "literature and medicine" arises from new scholarship by literature and culture specialists on the one hand and from the growth of Medical Humanities programs on the other. What does literature reveal about the role of interpretation and cultural context in medical diagnosis, healthcare ethics, and historical constructions of disease?  Is the study of literature useful in understanding the differing "stories" that individuals tell about disease, illness and their own identities? What are the personal, cultural, and social meanings of illness and healing? These are some of the questions this class will explore by considering a selection of literary texts concerned with disease, health, and healing from different cultural contexts. The class will begin by surveying recent research and resources on literature and medicine. Other topics explored in varying degrees of detail will include 1) literary representations of health professionals and community healers in Taylor, Silko, and Bambara; 2) "cancer narratives" in Williams; 3) literary representations of death and dying in Williams and Castillo; 4) cultural constructions of illness, the body, and the "able-disabled" in Castillo, Alvord, Morrison, Hogan, and Sontag. 

Ann Folwell Stanford, Bodies in A Broken World
Gay Wilentz, Healing Narratives
Susan Sontag, AIDS and its Metaphors
Linda Hogan, Woman Who Watches Over the World
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
Sheila Ortiz Taylor, Coachella
Anna Castillo, So Far From God
Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge
Lori Arviso Alvord, The Scalpel and the Silver Bear
Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony
Toni Cade Bambara, The Salt Eaters

217 Humanities Bldg., Albuquerque, NM 87131       Telephone: (505) 277-6347 Fax: (505) 277-5573