COURSE DESCRIPTION:  In his book The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics, sociologist Arthur Frank asserts that “whether ill people want to tell stories or not, illness calls for stories.” Judging by the popularity of hospital-based television dramas, medically themed novels, outbreak narratives, patient blogs, and clinician memoirs, the connection between illness and storytelling is tighter than ever. At the same time, stories are shaped by cultural and historical context and by specific genres of representation. Stories about illness and healing draw on and trace the challenges brought on by suffering, loss, notions of well-being, and the dilemmas of providing care.

This new course, team-taught by professors of English and Anthropology, brings together literary and ethnographic texts to explore narratives of suffering, healing, and medicine’s roles in these processes. By examining compelling works from a range of genres—memoir, the short story, the ethnographic case study, graphic medicine, and the novel—students will learn analytical techniques from both fields and hone their interpretive and writing skills.



REQUIRED BOOKS: There are 3 required books for the course, which are available for purchase at the Student Stores bookshop. All assigned articles will be available from our class Website site. Assigned films and will be on reserve at the Media Resource Center (basement of the Undergraduate Library); also, UNC has memberships to Prime Video, Netflix, etc.

▪ Bauby, Jean-Dominique 1998. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death. Vintage Books.

▪ Dunlap-Shohl, Peter. 2015. My Degeneration: A Journey Through Parkinson’s. Penn State University Press.

▪ Tweedy, Damon. 2016. Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine. Picador.