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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Spring 2010

T C 302 • Illness and Meaning - W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
43525 F
12:00 PM-3:00 PM
CRD 007A

Course Description

Falling ill, suffering injury, overcoming life-threatening sickness, experiencing loss, facing death—such experiences are the existential meeting place of medicine and meaning. When we fall seriously ill, we want to know not only what's the matter with us—the cause (and cure?)—but what it means for our lives, our future, our families. This seminar will explore such questions by listening carefully to the voices of those doing the asking from "inside" the experience, and of those who care for them.

Grading Policy

Each student will write two short papers (3-5 pages), each of which will constitute 20% of the course grade, and one longer paper (10-12 pages) that will constitute 30% of the course grade. Each student will also make an in-class presentation on the subject of his or her longer paper while the paper is being drafted. The remaining 30% of the course grade will be based on participation in class discussion of the readings and on one in-class presentation on a topic to be assigned in advance.


Anatole Broyard, Intoxicated by My Illness
Simone de Beauvoir, A Very Easy Death
Pauline W. Chen, Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality
Clara Claiborne Clarke, The Siege: The First Eight Years of an Autistic Child
Cortney Davis, I Knew a Woman: The Experience of the Female Body
Peter DeVries, The Blood of the Lamb
Arthur Frank, At the Will of the Body
Anne Hunsaker Hawkins, A Small, Good Thing: Stories of Children with HIV and Those Who Care for Them
Terry Pringle, This is the Child
Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor; and AIDS and Its Metaphors
Michael Stein, The Lonely Patient: How We Experience Illness
Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Illych

About the Professor

Ronald A. Carson, Ph.D., was educated in Indiana, New York, Germany and Scotland. A recipient of numerous post-doctoral awards and visiting scholar appointments, he is an elected Fellow of The Hastings Center, former president of the Society for Health and Human Values and a recipient of that society's Annual Award.

He is the author or editor of 5 books and of articles, chapters, and reviews in both humanities and medical publications. A founder and co-editor of the journal, Medical Humanities Review, a founding member of the editorial board of the journal Medical Humanities (UK) and a contributing editor of the journal, Literature and Medicine, he lectures and consults nationally and internationally and is a commentator on medical ethical issues in the public media. He served as Director of The Institute for the Medical Humanities from 1982 to 2005 and his current position is that of Harris L. Kempner Distinguished Professor in the Institute.


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