HISTORY 195 - The Writing of History
Section: 002 A Social History of Medicine and Disease in the Americas, 1850-1918
Term: WN 2008
Subject: History (HISTORY)
Department: LSA History
Requirements & Distribution:
Other Course Info:
This course may not be included in a History concentration. F.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This course explores how the rise of the medical profession, the laboratory, germ theory, and bacteriology affected public health and redefined disease in the Americas from the latter half of the nineteenth century through the first half of the twentieth century. For our purposes, the Americas encompasses the United States, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and South America. We will analyze some of the general shifts in medical thought and practice and the ways in which they relate to empire, nation building, eugenics, immigration and world health politics. By decentering our gaze away from what might be familiar cultural arenas, and taking on a cross-national perspective, we will challenge and deconstruct many of our assumptions in order to better understand the worlds in which we live. In addition to predominant medical currents and theories, we will look at some theories and practices that challenged mainstream medicine. Instead of seeing the development of medical knowledge as the result of purely scientific observation, this course approaches medicine and disease as interactive parts of a culturally dynamic system immersed in the political and social particularities of time and space. We will thus challenge commonly held assumptions about the detached objectivity of health sciences and health care.

One of the main goals of this course is to introduce students to the writing of history. Therefore, great part of our study will be devoted to developing the skills of effective writing. Students will practice how to organize their thoughts and writing and prepare convincing thesis statements. Moreover, they will learn how to support their arguments with the analysis and application of primary and secondary sources. In class discussions, we will also target questions central to the craft of history, especially to the nature of sources and the various analytical frameworks used to present them. We will concentrate on close readings of a broad variety of historical sources including medical reports and articles, medical history, and visual images and film. The aim is that students will not only learn about the history of medicine and disease in the Americas, but that they will also come to understand the process of historical production and be able to gain further critical thinking, communication, and research skills that will be useful to them in future.

Students will be evaluated based on their active participation in class, many short writing exercises, and four polished writing pieces (four pages each). There will be no exams but plenty of reading, writing, and discussions. Students will also need to meet with the instructor individually during office hours to discuss writing assignments and progress in the class. Readings will include selected articles available in a course pack.

HISTORY 195 - The Writing of History
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
WF 1:00PM - 2:30PM
002 (REC)
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
003 (REC)
MW 2:30PM - 4:00PM
004 (REC)
MW 4:00PM - 5:30PM
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