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Literature and Medicine

Virginia Woolf once wrote, "The merest schoolgirl when she falls in love has Shakespeare or Keats to speak her mind for her, but let a sufferer try to describe a pain in his head to a doctor and language at once runs dry.” Problems of representation are at the heart of the experiences of physical suffering and medical care; how has literature defined and redefined its relationship to these experiences? Topics include medical and literary interpretation, illness and metaphor, and the evolution of the surface-depth model of the self. The course centers on major works of literature that engage the imaginative potential of medicine and the narrative structures of disease, by authors including Jane Austen, Leo Tolstoy, and Arthur Conan Doyle, read alongside paintings (Rembrandt's The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp), film (Ingmar Bergman's Cries and Whispers), medical descriptions of disease, diagnostic tools, and theory (e.g., Sontag's Illness as Metaphor).

185A
Subject: 
ENGLISH
English Degree Requirements: 
Literature Elective
Prose Literature Elective
Requirements: 
WAY-A-II
Course ID: 
211 433

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