Medical Humanities Graduate Program (MEHU) MEHU Course Descriptions

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Medical Humanities (MEHU) Course Descriptions

Research (MEHU 6097)

This course is designed to afford the student the opportunity to develop a thesis or dissertation proposal under faculty guidance. The proposal development may involve a literature search, conceptual analysis, primary research, or a pilot field study. The research would be preliminary but relevant to the thesis or dissertation. Credit and hours to be arranged. Teaching technique is tutorial in nature. At the end of the term, the student must turn in a one-page report of the research completed during the semester, and the student’s advisor must turn in a completed Ongoing Research Assessment form to the graduate program coordinator. This form is a requirement of the SACS accreditation review of UTMB in 2008.

Prerequisite: Consent of advisor and graduate program director
Term offered: Fall, Spring, Summer


Thesis (MEHU 6098)

Once admitted to candidacy, it is required for students pursuing a Master of Science or Master of Arts degree to enroll in this course. This course is for the formal research and writing leading to the preparation and completion of the thesis for the Master of Science or Master of Arts degree while under the direction of the student’s supervisory committee. The student will pursue the proposed research and present a progress report and/or agreed upon objectives to the mentor and/or supervisory committee for approval and recommendations. Grading will be based upon the student’s level of performance as reported by the chairperson of the student’s supervisory committee and will be assigned as Satisfactory (S), Needs Improvement (N), or Unsatisfactory (U).
Prerequisites: Admission to candidacy
Terms offered: I, II, III
Year Offered: Annually
Hours per week: Variable 3-9

Dissertation (MEHU 6099)

Once admitted to candidacy, it is required for students pursuing the Doctor of Philosophy degree to enroll in this course.  This course is for the formal research and writing leading to the preparation and completion of the dissertation for the Doctor of Philosophy degree while under the direction of the student’s supervisory committee. The student will pursue the proposed research and present a progress report and/or agreed upon objectives to the mentor and/or supervisory committee for approval and recommendations. Grading will be based upon the student's level of performance as reported by the chairperson of the student's supervisory committee and will be assigned as Satisfactory (S), Needs Improvement (N), or Unsatisfactory (U).
Prerequisites: Admission to candidacy
Terms offered: I, II, III
Year Offered: Annually
Hours per week: Variable 3-9


Ethics of Scientific Research (MEHU 6101)

This course will employ small-group discussion to explore ethical issues in the conduct of scientific research. Students will meet with co-instructors from the IMH and the GSBS to discuss readings and cases dealing with the philosophy of science, the ordinary practice of scientific research, conflicts of interest, and the value conflicts that arise between scientists and society at large. Course grades (S/U) will be determined by attendance, which is required at all sessions (60%), and adequate class participation based on an understanding of the basic concepts of the course (40%). (15 contact hours in 2 days).

Prerequisite: None
Term offered: Fall, Summer
Year offered: Annually


Life History, Autobiography, Autoethnography (MEHU 6152)

This course addresses advanced qualitative research methods that include techniques for collecting and analyzing life histories, oral histories, autobiographies, and autoethnography. These methods are increasingly popular research techniques and provide an alternative to empirical methods for identifying and documenting health and behavioral patterns of individuals and groups. Life history and oral history allow the researcher to explore individual experiences within a particular historical and temporal framework. Autobiography and autoethnography methods involve self-observation and reflexive investigation using ethnographic field work and writing. Methodologies, data analysis, and the validity/challenges of each of these research methods will be discussed for use in historical research and as reflections of our own biographies. Grading criteria: Participation, Attendence, & Blog (20%); Field Project (25%); Final Presentation (20%); Final Paper (35%).

Prerequisite: MEHU 6351
Enrollment Restrictions: Minimum=3; Maximum=10
Term offered: Summer
Year offered: Biennially-Even Years


Foundations of Bioethics (MEHU 6306)

Bioethics emerged in recent decades as a field of inquiry that explores and clarifies moral dimensions in medical practice. Weekly seminars will explore ethical aspects of various bioethical problem areas. Topics will include the role ethical theories, principles and cases, ethical reasoning, and ethical decision making. Leading texts such as The Principles of Biomedical Ethics will be carefully and critically studied. Students are evaluated on the basis of their participation in class discussion (25%) and on the basis of written work including research papers and conceptual analysis of textual materials (75%).

Prerequisite: None; Term offered: Fall
Year offered: Biennially-Even


Bioethics and Leadership (MEHU 6311)

Medicine and biomedical research are moral endeavors that require the cooperation and collaboration of others to be successful. The physician must demonstrate leadership by exercising the authority of position, encouraging others to change behaviors, providing an example for colleagues and trainees to follow, making decisions in crises, demonstrating skills that inspire confidence, and doing the right thing under pressure. Similarly, the biomedical researcher must be able to persuade others to work with him or her by demonstrating integrity, communicating clearly, working with others toward a common goal, acting appropriately with skill, and creating a working environment that encourages others to do their best work. Demonstrating these traits, skills, behaviors, and attitudes is not automatic. People in positions of leadership can abuse their power and suffer failures of the moral imagination. This course examines theories and approaches to leadership development and how the medical humanist/bioethicists can become leaders and play a role in helping physicians and biomedical scientists to become ethical leaders needed in this rapidly changing environment. Objectives: 1. Discuss various theories and examples of leadership and compare and contrast them with styles of medical practice and research; 2. Explore ethical theories as they relate to leadership in the biomedical realm; 3. Apply ethical leadership concepts to new scenarios and defend their analyses. Grading criteria: Class participation; Formal presentations (2) assessed on basis of content, delivery, quality of slides; Research papers (2) assessed on incorporation of guidance from presentations, quality of research, grammar, organization, logic, citation form, and content.

Prerequisite: None
Enrollment Restrictions: Yes (Min. 1; Max. 10)
Term offered: Summer
Year offered: Biennially-Even Years


Clinical Ethics (MEHU 6315)

This seminar is a comprehensive examination of the dominant methods, themes, cases and contemporary issues associated with the field of clinical ethics. The course examines ethical, legal, historical and cultural aspects of bioethical issues in the health care arena, with particular emphasis on modes of reasoning in clinical ethics consultation. There are three graded assignments: a critical essay (30%), an argument/case analysis (30%) and a formal presentation (20%). Specific details will be provided. All students are expected to complete all reading assignments before each class and participate in discussions.

Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Restrictions: Yes (Min 3; Max 8)
Term Offered: Spring
Years Offered: Biennially- Odd Years


Advanced Practicum in Healthcare Ethics (MEHU 6317)

This course is designed to offer an in-depth exploration of ethical issues in health care with specific attention to the development of practical skills in bioethics problem solving, case analysis, policy development, clinical teaching, and/or intradisciplinary field work. Students work independently under the supervision of a designated mentor who will assist the instructor in providing access to a variety of teaching-learning venues in health-care ethics. Students will spend 3 hours a week in clinical settings and 2 hours a week in discussion of readings and clinical experiences. In most cases the Advanced Practicum is an opportunity for concentrated study of a theme, problem, or issue to be further developed at the thesis or dissertation stage. Grading will be based on practicum performance, project presentations, and a written essay.

Prerequisite: MEHU 6382 and consent of the instructor.
Term offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Year offered: Annually


Narratives of Medical Catastrophes (MEHU 6320)

This course will examine historical, autobiographical, fictional, and video narratives of past, present, and potential medical catastrophes—defined as devastating circumstances that result in the total collapse of medical institutions and infrastructure for a prolonged period of time. The first part of the course will take a panoramic overview of historical narratives of medical catastrophes from the plagues in ancient Greece, Renaissance Italy, and the seventeenth-century England; the 1918 influenza pandemic, especially in the United States; to the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan in 1945. The middle section of the course will zoom in for a close and extended examination of narratives from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, with special attention to the events at Memorial Medical Center. The focus of the final part of the course will expand to consider narratives of contemporary and potential medical catastrophes, from the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident in Japan to the current outbreak of Ebola and potential pandemics of avian influenza. Ethical issues emerging from these various narratives will be a continuing theme throughout the course. Students’ grades will be determined by the quality of their participation in class discuss (20%); two short essays (20% each); and a final course paper (40%).

Prerequisites: MEHU 6363 Narratives of Illness or permission of the instructor.
Term Offered: Spring
Year offered: Biennially- Odd years


Social Justice in International Research (MEHU 6343)

This seminar explores the relationships between the social and structural determinants of health, ideas of global justice and the ethical conduct of research in developing countries. It addresses both theoretical and practical aspects of the concept of social justice and related notions of human rights, national identities, poverty, moral agency, power, standards of care, access to care in research contexts, and the role of community in research partnerships. Course instructors will use a multidisciplinary approach that incorporates perspectives from philosophy, history, political theory, literature, law and policy, film studies, and cultural anthropology. Students will learn to interpret films, cases, and text-based narratives, think systematically about the issues that these narratives raise, and identify appropriate responses to ethical dilemmas in international research settings. Students will be evaluated on the basis of weekly journals, one midterm essay, student-led discussion presentation, a mock IRB presentation and paper, and a final comprehensive exam.

Prerequisite: None
Enrollment Restrictions: None
Term offered: Summer
Year offered: Biennially-Odd Years


Law, Science, and Society (MEHU 6344)

Scientific discoveries generate tremendous excitement, but they can also generate controversies and conflicts. The challenges of protecting the interests of scientists, research institutions, funding agencies, governments, research participants, and ordinary citizens require critical thinking and careful weighing of benefits and burdens. This course explores current controversies and disputes surrounding biomedical research and the thought processes necessary to arrive at well-reasoned policy responses. Invited experts will join the class to share their insights and perspectives. The course is designed to address elements of 12 of the 15 Core Competencies in Clinical and Translational Research. It provides guidance in gathering and evaluating evidence from various disciplinary perspectives and designing ways to address research problems. In addition, the course:

1. Examines the roles of bioinformatics and electronic health records in addressing research questions,
2. Provides insights into and applications of ethics and compliance in clinical and translation research,
3. Requires clear communication aimed at broad audiences,
4. Raises awareness of cultural needs and differences,
5. Provides opportunities to obtain understanding of multiple disciplines,
6. Fosters leadership through innovation and creativity in problem-solving,
7. Applies adult-learning and competency-based instruction, and
8. Addresses controversies currently affecting biomedical science and society’s health and well-being and the roles of various interests in creating community.

Prerequisite: None.
Enrollment Restrictions: Minimum=6
Term offered: Spring term beginning 2013
Year offered: Biennially-Odd Years


Bioethics and Case Law (MEHU 6345)

Some of the most riveting cases in legal history involve disputes about health care. These court cases have brought to light several important ethical issues, and published legal opinions have given shape the way we view rights over the body, reproduction, life, death, and other health matters. This course explores the interactions between law and bioethics and how key cases have contributed to our understanding of the boundaries of medicine and biomedical research and the legal and moral rights and duties of physicians, researchers, and patients. Grading criteria: Seminar Participation=25%; Paper #1=25%; Paper #2=25%; Paper #3=25%.

Prerequisite: None
Enrollment Restrictions: Minimum=3; Maximum=10
Term offered: Fall term beginning 2014
Year offered: Biennially-Even Years


Qualitative Methods in Social Medicine (MEHU 6351)

Through engaged community interaction and in-class discussion, this course will explore a variety of qualitative methods for conducting research in topics related to social medicine. Topics to be discussed will include, but are not limited to, the social determinants of health, health and individual responsibility, health disparities, immigration and health, the U.S. health care system and health policy. As a result of this course, students will be familiar with all of the phases of a qualitative research project including completing forms for the IRB, developing a research design, conducting ethnographic research, writing and analyzing field notes, and theorizing research findings. Ethical, political, and social issues related to qualitative research will be discussed. Blackboard will be used. Grading will be based on in-class participation, research design, field notes (due in class every two weeks), and a final paper.

Prerequisite: None
Enrollment Restrictions: None
Term offered: Fall term beginning 2015
Year offered: Biennially-Odd Years


Foundations of Social Medicine (MEHU 6352)

The Foundations of Social Medicine course offers a critical inquiry into the socio-cultural, technological and political-economic dimensions of health, medical knowledge and practices. Informed by the social sciences and the humanities, this course emphasizes theoretical, historical and cross-cultural approaches to the study of what has broadly been defined as the social determinants of health. Within the context of this course, social determinants are understood as the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, including the health system, as well as the ideas, discourses and institutional practices of public health and medicine. This course provides the foundation for the social medicine area of concentration and, consequently, functions as a survey course. It is meant to introduce students to themes that will be explored in greater depth in other courses offered in the area of concentration. Readings for the term will be drawn primarily from sociology, science and technology studies, and anthropology. Topics to be covered include the history and definition of social medicine, social and structural determinants of health, the political economy of health, biomedicalization, and the social production of scientific knowledge. Grading criteria: In-class participation-20%, mid-term paper-30%, Final paper-35%, and in-class presentations-15%.

Prerequisite: None.
Enrollment Restrictions: None.
Term offered: Fall term beginning 2016
Year offered: Biennially-Even Years


The Meaning and Making of ‘Human’: An Interdisciplinary Introduction to Contemporary Social Theory (MEHU 6353)

This course will address the question of what it means to be human through an interdisciplinary exploration of contemporary theories. The course is designed to provide students interested in “social medicine” a foundation in notions of power, society, identity, space, politics, aesthetics, language, and the market as these have been conceptualized in dialogue and dispute between political, cultural and social thinkers of the 19th, 20th, centuries. While the course is not comprehensive in nature, its objective is to stimulate thinking about how conceptions of what it means to be human vary according to the perspective with and context within which this question is asked and answered. Grading criteria: Participation, 20%; 2 Response Papers, 30%; Seminar Facilitation (1-week), 10%; Final Paper Outline, 10%, and Final Paper, 30%.

Prerequisite: None
Enrollment Restrictions: None
Term offered: Spring
Year offered: Biennially-Even Years


Global Health in Social Medicine (MEHU 6354)

This course offers a cross-cultural exploration of medical systems, healers, and healing approaches through a critical ethnographic lens. Since every culture and society around the world has had to deal with injury and illness, each has a well-developed concept about the healing process, healers, diagnosis, medical treatment, medical knowledge and health practices. We must also consider what “global” means, not simply international, but how all health systems around the globe are interconnected, including our state, city and island. We will consider these and other topics with a commitment to understanding the broader structural issues at play. Grading: Students will be required to lead at least two seminars throughout the semester. Students will be required to journal each week on their reactions to the readings and can later update their journals following class to discuss how their ideas changed or give impressions of other material presented in class (e.g. film). All journals will be kept on Blackboard. Each entry should be between 500 and 750 words. Journal entries are due before class begins. Based upon weekly reactions, students will formulate a brief (5 page) analytic reflection paper that considers themes in comparison to their experience and expectations of medicine (ethno/bio) and culture. These will be submitted every five (5) weeks. The final paper will be accompanied by a multimedia in-class presentation which will demonstrate the culmination of the student’s thinking about one specific theme or comparative themes. Students need not have any previous multi-media experience to produce a successful final presentation.

Prerequisite: None
Term offered: Spring
Year offered: Biennially-Odd Years


Visual Ethnography and the Digital Humanities (MEHU 6355)

This class explores the role of all things visual in regard to ethnography—the description of people—and how that endeavor has evolved along with the technology employed. From the inception of fieldwork, through the collection of material and the production of the work, we delve into how ethnographers (and all social researchers) use images (and other senses) as data (analog or digital). We are interested in engaging with the visual beyond it as a means for recording data or illustrating text, but as a medium through which we create new ways of thinking and use multiple media simultaneously (intermediality). To do this we stress collaboration at a number of levels, from the most basic researcher/informant relationship, to a more abstract visual/textual/sensual relationship between producers of words, images, and things. Through these we will discuss, explore and critique the potentials of photography, video, the Internet (and other types of media) in research and representation of what it means to be human. Through a combination of theory and praxis, of methods and experience, of the analog and digital, of visual and textual we must always recognize our own cultural biases and assumptions, reflecting upon where our ideas about culture originate and how we use technology to portray others. In the classroom we will read, watch, listen and share our ideas about the visual (and other senses) in human subject research. Outside the classroom students will have the opportunity to implement and practice these ideas in order to understand their role in the work. Grading criteria: Seminar participation (20%), Writing components (40%), Production components (40%). Blackboard will be used.

Prerequisites: None
Term Offered: Spring
Year Offered: Biennially- Even years


Trauma, Narrative, and Resilience (MEHU 6361)

What does it mean to serve as a devoted audience to the sufferers of trauma, enter empathically in the fragmentation of sufferers’ lives, and offer a companionship that encourages the construction of life stories through which hope for a future may be kindled? Addressing such a question becomes imperative as conditions of globalization, war, genocide, and violence associated with population shifts and urban expansion prompt drastic increases in the incidence of trauma and in the devastating repercussions that flow from traumatic experience. In this course we will indeed begin to address the question. We will consider a range of clinical and theoretical accounts ranging from Freud’s and Janet’s to those of recent writers who seek to integrate biological, clinical, and cultural perspectives to understand the phenomenon of trauma. But we will also consider numerous works of fiction that depict and speak from the borderland of trauma’s vacuity, and inquire as to the value of such works in promoting an improved understanding of trauma and in suggesting responses to it that have considerable clinical and therapeutic implications. The course will be divided into three parts: I. Trauma, Narrative, and History; II. War and the Undoing of Character; III. Narrative and Resilience. Two short papers (20% of grade, each), one scholarly essay (40%), and seminar participation (20%) will be required.

Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor
Enrollment Restrictions: Minimum 1, Maximum 10
Term offered: Summer term beginning 2013
Year offered: Biennially-Odd Years


Narratives of Illness (MEHU 6363)

A study of the changing nature and importance of narratives of illness. Focus will be on the historical development of patients' autobiographical narratives of illness (pathographies); the historical development of physicians' narratives of patients' illnesses (expanded case histories); and representative contemporary patients' narratives of illness that exemplify different forms and styles. Special attention will be given to theoretical background works about pathographies (Anne Hunsaker Hawkins) and the first-person narrative of illness (Arthur Frank). Course grades will be determined by the quality of participation in class discussion of assigned readings (20%), two assigned essays about course readings (20% each), and a final course paper (40%).

Prerequisite: None;
Term offered: Fall
Year offered: Biennially-Even Years


Introduction to Literature and Medicine (MEHU 6367)

An introduction to the history, theory, and practice of literature and medicine. The first two parts of the course focus on two important traditional approaches to literature and medicine: 1) the historical development of literary images of healers; and 2) illness as metaphor or theme in classic medical novels, as well as in selected contemporary literary works. The third section of the course surveys and samples the dominant theories and methods of using literature in medical education. Particular attention is given to the aesthetic and ethical models. Students have the opportunity to practice these various approaches by reading and discussing selected works of literature. Course grades will be determined by the quality of participation in class discussion of assigned readings (20%), two assigned essays about course readings (20% each), and a final course paper (40%).

Prerequisite: None
Term offered: Spring
Year offered: Biennially-Even Years


Philosophical Ethics (MEHU 6370)

This seminar is conducted as a modern Socrates Café. The course emphasizes the most important philosophical thinkers in the Western tradition on the question of the “good” or the “good life.” Students will read and critically examine major works in Virtue Theory, Utilitarianism, Kantianism, Moral Sense Theory, and other normative theories of ethics. The course aims to develop critical skills in the philosophical analysis of human action, character, duty, ethical reasoning, and moral judgment. Students are expected to be active participants in the exchange of ideas that is at the heart of all forms of Socratic inquiry. Grading is based on class participation, two written essays and two argument summaries.

Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. This course will function as a recommended precursor but not a required prerequisite to MEHU 6378-Humanism and the Medical Humanities.
Enrollment Restrictions: Minimum 4
Term offered: Spring
Year offered: Biennially-Even Years


Humanism and the Humanities: History and Theory (MEHU 6375)

This course will provide an historical and conceptual overview of Western humanism and its evolution into university-based humanities disciplines. It will begin with the contemporary debate over the canon and core curriculum in academic circles. This debate about whether American society possesses any shared values on which to build a unified community will frame our historical exploration of humanism and our approach to the medical humanities. Readings will include a textbook on the history of Western humanism; primary sources from antiquity, the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, the emergence of the modern university and of modern professionalism, and contemporary analyses by advocates of postmodernism and critics of the Western tradition. Course grading will be based on class participation (25%) and three essays about course readings (25% each).

Prerequisite: None
Term offered: Fall
Year offered: Biennially-Odd Years


Humanism and the Medical Humanities (MEHU 6378)

This course connects today’s medical humanities to the tradition of Renaissance humanism and traces the history of medical humanities from its inception in the 1960s to the present day. Major topic include: modernity and its implications for both medicine and medical humanities; challenges to modernity and positivism from both continental and analytic philosophical traditions; relations between medical humanities and the social sciences; origins, development, and appropriate scope of bioethics; literature and medicine and narrative approaches to ethics and medicine; religious themes in bioethics and humanities; feminist theories relevant to humanities and bioethics; the debate over principlism vs. moral particularism in ethics; and medical humanities conceived as dialogical practice. Two books, Stephen Toulmin’s Cosmopolis and David Rothman’s Strangers at the Bedside, and readings by authors such as Bouwsma, Taylor, Gadamer, Geertz, Carson, Ramsey, Callahan, Fox, Churchill, Jones, Chambers, Jonsen, Walker, and Montgomery are assigned. The course grade is based 25% on class participation and 75% on paper assignments. Students are given options to write three separate papers or to do one short and one long paper.

Prerequisite: None
Term offered: Spring
Year offered: Biennially-Even


Death & Dying Law & Ethics (MEHU 6379)

Impressive feats of medicine and technology are often the sources of disagreements, misunderstandings, ethical dilemmas, and legal battles, especially at the end of life. Legislation and court cases help to some extent to reduce the ambiguity and confusion about the rights and obligations of patients, family members, health-care providers, and others toward the dying and the dead. However, value clashes, blurring of concepts, and political machinations keep end-of-life and post-mortem issues from repose. This course examines such issues as the right to die, hospice, physician-assisted suicide, advance directives, definitions of death, disposal of the deceased’s body, and more from the perspectives of law and bioethics. By the end of the course students should be able to: (1) Discuss the evolving legal and ethical landscapes in the U.S. concerning dying and death. (2) Explore the ethical and social issues that have created the need for the laws. (3) Apply legal and ethical concepts to new scenarios and defend their chosen responses using ethical and legal concepts. Components of the final grade: Participation (20%), Presentation #1 (15%), Presentation #2 (15%), Paper #1 (20%), and Paper #2 (30%).

Prerequisites: None
Term Offered: Fall
Year Offered: Biennially- Odd


Ritual Bodies Social Rites (MEHU 6381)

In this course we will consider the significance of ritual and ritual theory for our understanding of individual and collective engagements with health and healing. We will consider rituals across the life course, in varied cultural contexts, and in conversation with select social theories. Our questions will encompass media and memory, power and performance, the sacred and the secular. Drawing from religious studies, cultural history, sociology & anthropology, the course is an opportunity to examine claims about what ritual is, consider theories about what it does, and explore the multiple ways that rituals impact the construction, delivery, and pursuit of health and healing. Grading criteria: class participation (20%), Three Review Papers (30%), Ritual Design Exercise (10%), Outline for Final Research Paper (15%), and, Final Research Paper (35%).

Prerequisites: None
Term Offered: Fall
Year Offered: Biennially- Odd


Clinical Ethics Practicum (MEHU 6382)

This course is designed to provide an opportunity for graduate students in the IMH to learn about culture of clinical medicine by engaging them in health care encounters and relationships that typify medical practice. Students will be introduced to basic concepts of clinical ethics through observation of the patient-doctor-relationship in various practice sites. The student, with guidance, will select a pre-approved clinical site or sites (i.e. clinical practice, medical ICU, hospice) and observe and interact with the care team, on a weekly basis, for six hours. Further objectives of the course will be dependent on individual student needs but may include understanding of medical terminology and the vocabulary of medicine, readings in a particular area of clinical ethics or ethics consultation, and observation of clinical ethics teaching, and ethics committee meetings. Students will complete a project (paper, presentation or case analysis). Grading will be determined from: participation in clinical experiences, discussions of readings and the project.

Prerequisite: Permission from the instructor required. Students must contact the instructor at least 30 days before the term begins. This course is not being made available to new students in their first term of course work. Students need to have a beginning understanding of medical humanities before they can comprehend how the role of a clinical ethicist who is grounded in medical humanities is different from an ethicist who may have a different academic background.
Term Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Year Offered: Annually


Religion and the Politics of Health Care (MEHU 6384)

How do religions factor into the cultural meanings of health and illness, the power dynamics through which these meanings are constructed, and related injustices? How are religious rituals, religious bodies and religious beliefs impacted by their participation in the normalizing discourses, economic circuits, and biotechnical practices of modern medicine? Attending to critical perspectives on health and illness, with a particular focus on Foucault, this course explores the ceaseless work of the religious imagination with respect to healing in an age dominated by medicine. We will consider the embodiment of religion, the sociological debates about contemporary religion, the claims that religion is increasingly more viscous and visible, the legal frameworks for religious freedom, the place of religious majorities and minorities in America’s diverse religious landscape- and the ways that each of these elements engages with the production of health. Grading is based on seminar participation, short paper (Theorizing Religion & the Politics of Health), Seminar Facilitation (one class), original research paper/presentation.

Prerequisites: None
Term Offered: Summer
Year Offered: Biennially- Odd years


Psychoanalysis, Consciousness, and Neuroethics (MEHU 6386)

Psychoanalysis will be critically examined through Freud's clinical cases, the interpretation of dreams, and selected theoretical essays. Recent developments in neuroscience and imaging techniques will provide a framework of relationships between the brain and consciousness including minimal consciousness and persistent vegetative states. The ethical implications of psychoanalysis and brain mind studies will be applied through topics such as moral and legal responsibilities. Grading criteria: (1) a book review of a relevant book on brain policy, 5-7 pages (20%); a seminar paper of at least twenty pages, exclusive of end notes (60%); class presentation and discussion of the seminar paper and class participation (20%).

Prerequisite: None
Enrollment Restrictions: None
Term offered: Spring
Year offered: Biennially-Odd Years