Writing and Medicine


In the past three decades, medical doctors have been writing about their experiences in the modern American health care system in a remarkably forthright way: admitting their own weaknesses, praising and criticizing patient behaviors, exposing flaws in current systems of medical education and delivery of care. Patients have been writing not only about what it feels like to be ill, but also about the ways doctors have both helped and failed them. We will read a sample of these works by physicians, patients, and journalists, beginning with influential pieces by Alice Trillin, Nancy Mairs, and Atul Gawande. In this writing-centered class, we will focus on how, why, and how well physicians and patients make written arguments to the public. Writing assignments will allow students to work on the matter of how best to represent illness, and to improve their skills in analysis and argumentation. Peer review sessions will encourage substantive revision. This course does not count toward the Creative Writing Concentration. Students will be enrolled from the waitlist; priority will be given to Medical Humanities minors, graduating seniors, and seniors waitlisted in earlier semesters. Pre-Req: College Writing
Course Attributes: EN H; BU Hum; AS HUM; AS WI I; FA HUM; AR HUM; CFH MH

Section 01

Writing and Medicine
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