BSHS Selectives 2021-2022
Selectives Type:  Medical Humanities

Selective Title
Skin Diseases Depicted in Film: BSH Selective
Course Number
DERU 4051
Prerequisites: Successful completion of all Year 3 requirements.
Responsible Faculty Director:
Richard Wagner, MD
Other Faculty:
Contact Information
Periods Offered
1-12, 14-16
incl. holiday period 9, but not 10
Maximum Enrollment

Learning Objectives
The impact of skin diseases on individuals and societal perceptions of those with skin diseases will be studied using 17 film selected based on types of skin diseases and film genres. Students will view 4 or 5 films before each class and engage in a detailed analysis about how the skin disease was depicted and how it impacted on the character(s) and plot. On the last Thursday of the Period the students must each submit an original 10 page, double-spaced essay to satisfies the UTMB graduation writing requirement. Students may choose to write about a variety of topics: skin disease issues faced by a de-identified person they know or a historical figure who has experienced skin disease, and the multiple issues they faced as a result of its impact on their life. Students may also write a 10 page film critique for a movie that has not been viewed in the course (requires prior faculty approval if not listed in the syllabus) using film criticism techniques learned in class.

Describe the qualifications background and career goals or interests of students who would benefit from the course:
Although skin diseases are very common, the personal, social, psychological and economic impact of skin diseases are often underestimated. Since skin disease is so prevalent, this course is designed to introduce the student to some of the major issues raised by various skin diseases, and to acquaint medical students with skin diseases with a UTMB dermatology faculty. This course should be of interest to medical students with interest in the Humanities who plan clinical careers in primary care and in other clinical specialties such as dermatology, plastic surgery, ENT, and psychiatry.

Description of course activities
Enrolled students will be expected to view the assigned films on their own time. The first class session will address critical constructs used to analyze film. Special emphasis in this course will be consideration of the following 3 dermatology issues:
1) How accurately was the skin disease portrayed, in terms of cinematic appearance and clinical course (use recommended online Fitzpatrick's Atlas for background and pictural comparison);
2) What specific social interactions related to the skin disease were portrayed in the film; and
3) What choices did the character make that were related to his/her skin disease? The Dermatology Department maintains a course film library for students. Examples of films currently covered in the course (subject to change) are: Dallas Buyers Club(2013): Role of Kaposi's Sarcoma as part of the historical epidemiology of AIDS/HIV, . Kingdom of Heaven (2005): Historical importance of Hanson's Disease (leprosy), Death Becomes Her (1992): The cultural fixation with maintaining a perpetual youthful appearance is the comedic theme of this film. The impact of natural aging and society's response will be studied, and Acne (2000): risk factors for acne vulgaris and its impact on adolescents and society. Class will meet virtually Mondays and Thursdays at 10 a.m.-12 p.m. with Dr. Wagner for discussion of the films. On the last Thursday of the Selective, each student must submit a 10 page, double-spaced essay about the impact of a particular skin disease on a real (but unidentified) person or patient they know or a historical figure. The student may also select a film about skin disease listed in the course syllabus that was not viewed in the course and submit a 10 page double-spaced film critique utilizing film analysis approaches learned in the course. Films with skin disease content that are not listed in the syllabus may also be used with prior faculty approval.

Proposed time requirement (%) for the student activities per 40-hour week:
Activity Percent of Activity
Faculty contact time


Self-directed study


Data collection/analysis


Other Background research and writing required essay


Method of student evaluation

Check all that apply - complete appropriate section(s) only:
1.  Grading
A. Please specify your grading criteria for outstanding performance:
  Please specify your grading criteria for outstanding performance: Virtual attendence is expected for all class meetings. All class absences must be made up by a writing assignment. If you are unable to attend a class, you should email Dr. Wagner ( before the class and let him know. Essays must be received electronically ( as pdf by the last Thursday of the Period by 5 p.m. CST in order to receive a grade of "Pass." Your essay will be read by Dr. Wagner and submitted to the BSHS Course Committee as required. Outstanding essays are submitted for consideration for UTMB’s John P. McGovern Award in Oslerian Medicine and the UTMB Department of Dermatology Awards a Graduation Award for the best essay annually (funding permitting).

2.  Written Assignment (Homework, projects, notes, papers, abstracts, etc.)
A. Frequency of written assignment(s)
  See above
B. Type and format of written assignment
  The final written product should be at least 10, double-spaced pages in length, not including references or figures.
C. Method of content selection (student-selected, assigned, relate to cases, etc.)
  See above

3.  Oral Presentation
  A. Frequency / duration of presentation(s)?
    See above
  B. Type and format of presentation
    Please see above
  D. Assessment - Who assesses the student's presentation performance?
    Self-assessment   Peer assessment   Faculty assessment
  E. Method of content selection
    Student-selected topic   Assigned topic

4.  Professionalism
  What expectations do you have for the student to demonstrate participation in the elective (e.g. small group activities, seminars, thoughtful questions, providing resources, journal club, resident lecture attendance)?

The instructor will discuss principles of appropriate attribution and the referencing of literature with the student. The student is expected to understand and to adhere to the principle that all presented work must be solely the student’s own.

    Virtual attendance will be taken each class. All enrolled students should participate in the bi-weekly film discussion class discussions about the skin diseases depicted. The final essay will receive faculty review and the best essay for each academic year will be awarded a departmental graduation award for academic excellence if funding is available.

5.  Other Modes of Evaluation
  Please explain below.
    A. Frequency of written assignment(s): Type and format of written assignment: 10 page, original double-spaced essay about the impact of skin disease on a de-identified person or patient the student knows about or a movie review about a film not assigned for class discussion (due at the last Thursday of the Period by 5 p.m. CST). Method of content selection (student-selected, assigned, relate to cases, etc.) The essay subject matter will be selected by each student. 3. Oral Presentation A. Frequency / duration of presentation(s)? Class discussion each Period over assigned movies. B. Type and format of presentation. Who assesses the student's presentation performance? Student and faculty feedback each class discussion E. Method of content selection This course has student-selected topics (essay and assigned movies).