Medical Humanities (Semester 4)

This course tries to chart and study the close relationship between the spheres of Western medicine and Anglophone literature at various historical junctures, with a specific interest in mental health narratives. It will also discuss ways to frame the distinct field of enquiry that Medical Humanities has become  – the gathering of theoretical, critical and practical insights from across the social sciences to explore the meanings that get attached to health, illness, disease, disability, and therapeutic encounters (from both a professional and patient perspective), such that the healing process is caring, and not merely pathological (or curative, or functional).

Sample Texts:

Dorothy Parker’s Health,

Civilization and the State,

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,

Leo Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich,

Ibsen’s Ghosts,

Foucault’s Birth of the Clinic,

Freud’s Fragments of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria,

HD’s Writing on the Wall,

William Styron’s Darkness Visible,

David Foster Wallace’s “The Depressed Person” Kay Redfield Jamison’s Unquiet Mind,

Linda Grey Sexton’s Searching for Mercy Street,

Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar,

Jerry Pinto’s Em and the Big Hoom,

Paul Monette’s AIDS memoir Borrowed Time,

Randy Shilts’s And the Band Played On,

Abraham Verghese’s My Own Country

Since the syllabi in MCPH are dynamic and regularly updated, this reading list is indicative and amenable to modifications in each session.

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