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    Body and Soul: Health, Disease and Culture
    Fall 2008
    Laura Stevenson

    Medieval dissectionFor many centuries, human beings considered life and death mainly in the context of the cosmos-the stars, rivers, spirits, ancestors, demons; healing systems were based on the need for the individual to be readjusted to society and the world. Increasingly, however, the West has come to think of illness and cure as a matter of the body, and Western medicine has probed deeper and deeper beneath human flesh, studying systems, tissues, cells, DNA. One result of this development has been the creation of a powerful Western medical establishment whose cultural importance exceeds its ability to cure the sick. This course is concerned with the development of Western medicine; we will cover ideals of disease and cure, the effect of disease on human history, and the cultural effects of assumptions about sex, heredity, and childbearing. Readings will include a history of medical thinking, a study of the effects of the Black Plague of 1348, and the diary of a midwife at the time of the American Revolution. Three 5-7 page papers, term paper, miscellaneous exercises

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