Laura J. Harkewicz
Investigates the origins of aspects of contemporary life form vitamins, to giving birth in a hospital, bringing a historical perspective to topics including the politics of pharmaceuticals, the emergence of genetic determinism, and bioethics.
In the last few decades, medicine and the life sciences have become the locus for some of society's most extravagant hopes and acute anxieties. This course is aimed at students who would like to uncover the history behind the headlines and take the "longer view" of some of these issues. It will cover some basic facts and concepts, featuring 3 broad themes: 1) how medical knowledge was made, 2) technological contributions, and 3) the effects of existing philosophies, paradigms, or political/social/cultural conditions. We will investigate the origins of aspects of contemporary life familiar to us all, from the vitamins we take daily to giving birth in the hospital, bringing a historical perspective to bear on topics such as the politics of pharmaceutical patents, the emergence of the new genetic determinism, and way cultural representations of medicine and doctors inform our health care decisions.
Student learning goals
Mastery of the broad outlines of the history of scientific medicine
The ability to identify the 3 course themes (noted above) in the readings and lectures
An understanding of the difference between primary and secondary sources and how to use them
An understanding of the issues at stake in writing the history of science
Some improvements in their powers of expression
A demonstrated grasp of scholarly citation technique
General method of instruction
Lecture, small and large-group discussions, some videos
No prerequisites for class
Class assignments and grading
Several writing assignments, in-class quizzes, participation, a final exam based on course objectives and to demonstrate grasp of course materials.
See assignment information noted above.