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Course: Literature and Medicine (English Literature, senior honours)

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The dialogue between literature and medicine is ancient; Apollo was the god of poetry and medicine while many physicians have also been poets. In the last century Susan Sontag famously, if problematically, wrote of 'illness as metaphor', and in the decades since doctors and literary critics have both come to speak in terms of 'narrative medicine'. Literature and Medicine is a well-established field embracing a range of critical concerns. On this course we take a thematic approach to the literary representation of medical professionalism, disease and illness (physical and mental) while exploring relevant theoretical frames. We address questions of language, subjectivity and narration across genres - including poetry, prose fiction and memoir - in texts dating from the seventeenth century through to the present. No prior medical knowledge is required, but you will be encouraged to give attention to specific cultural contexts and historically shifting medical paradigms.