Essay #1 Due Tonight!

Hi All,

Just a friendly reminder that your first essay is due tonight Friday, February 7, by 11:59 p.m.

Submission: upload to our course website ( if you are in Grant’s Section or upload to Sakai Dropbox for Julio’s sections.

Please review the requirements for the Essay here before you turn it in:

Let your TA know if you have any questions or concerns.

All best,

Your Healing in Ethnography and Literature Team


Essay #1 Prompt Due Friday, February 7, by 11:59 p.m

Essay #1 Prompt

Healing in Ethnography and Literature (ANTH 272/ENGL 264)

Prompts for Essay #1

Instructions: For this assignment, we are asking you to write a 4-5 page analytical paper on one of topics listed below.  In crafting your essay, please make sure to quote directly from the texts (ensure you use in-text citations) and use one or more techniques of close reading (refer to the Reading Response handout). Though you will likely focus on one or two works, we encourage you to reference concepts or use examples from other works, as well. For instance, you might use Mattingly’s idea of “narrative reasoning,” Frank’s idea of “postmodern illness,” or Metzl/Hansen’s concept of “structural competence” – even if you are not examining the work itself in depth. Refer to your Reading Response handout for helpful tips!

  1. Write an essay that discusses the two vignettes we read from A Fortunate Man. Consider the stories’ similarities and differences, paying careful attention to the role of the narrator. Taken together, would you say the stories create a cohesive portrait: of a physician, of rural medical care, of the patient experience? Or, do the stories diverge in important ways? How might Arthur Frank’s distinction between modern and post-modern medicine apply.
  2. Our class has discussed some of the ways narratives play an important role in everyday life, by helping individuals to a) construct a sense of self; b) diagnose disease and shed light on the experience of illness; c) reason through moral dilemmas; and d) promote change in the world. Please write an essay that draws on one or more of our social science authors (Rita Charon, Arthur Frank, Cheryl Mattingly, Arthur Kleinman, or Jonathan Metzl & Helena Hansen) to identify and explain their view of the social role of narratives. Include in your discussion a close analysis of at least one case study the author uses to illustrate their point(s) about narrative. Then compare their insights with the ways a literary narrative we have read (Mairs, Berger, or Chopin) demonstrates the work of narrative in the world.
  3. Select a section of writing from one of our non-literary pieces (e.g. Mattingly, Frank, Kleinman, Metzl/Hansen). Use three or more techniques of close reading to examine not just what they convey in their article but how they create a compelling narrative. What light does this shed on how they construct a persuasive argument?
  4. Looking very carefully at the woman-centered stories by Berger and Chopin, write an essay that compares/contrasts how the narrators orient the reader to the characters and events within the text. Pay particular attention to how the narrators navigate time & space, insides & outsides. What conclusions can you draw about the differences (or the similarities) in these two works? Are they ultimately stories about “failure,” to use a term from the Berger?  
  5. Drawing on three or more concepts about illness narratives from Frank, write an essay that analyzes Nancy Mairs’s article “On Being a Cripple.” To what extent does her narrative conform to Frank’s framework; to what extent does her story exceed or challenge the categories he establishes? Do other writers provide useful terms for thinking about Mairs’s narrative: for instance, Mattingly’s idea of “chart talk,” or Kleinman’s distinction between sickness and disease? 

Formatting: make sure to follow the formatting rules listed on this website. Motivation: your paper will be docked one point for each mistake (e.g. not numbering your pages) – & given a bonus point for no mistakes!

Submission: upload to our course website if you are in Grant’s Section or to Sakai Dropbox for Julio’s sections by Friday, February 7, by 11:59 p.m.

(De)Constructing Difference: Medicalizing Blackness and the Making of Race

Optional Talk that might be of interest:
(De)Constructing Difference: Medicalizing Blackness and the Making of Race
February 13, 2020 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
Wilson Library


5:00 p.m.  Reception and exhibition viewing, Melba Remig Saltarelli Exhibit Room
5:30 p.m.  Program, Pleasants Family Assembly Room

A talk by Rana A. Hogarth assistant professor of history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will celebrate the opening of the exhibition “Race Deconstructed: Science and the Making of Difference.” Hogarth is the author of “Medicalizing Blackness: Making Racial Difference in the Atlantic World, 1780-1840” (University of North Carolina Press, 2017). Co-sponsored with the Bullitt History of Medicine Club.

For more information, contact

Reading Response

Hi all,

Our First Reading Response is Due Sunday Night (1/26/20) at 11:59pm. Instructions are available on this post via PDF, Image Files, and Text. These are meant to help you think through literature

If you want to approach Kleinman, you might want to think about answering these questions:

  1. What are examples of Kleinman’s “illness” as subjective lived experience of a disorder ?
  2. Why is it important to distinguish “sickness” from both “illness” and “disease?”?
  3. Kleinman refers to “radically materialist pursuit of the biological mechanism of disease” what does “materialist” mean here?

Also, we will have a reading quiz at the beginning of lecture tomorrow. Please be prepared.

If you have any questions, please reach out to your TA.


Your Healing in Ethnography and Literature Team

PDF VERSION Reading Responses

ANTH 272 / ENGL 264: How to Approach a Reading Response

*Thanks to Grant Glass for drafting the content of this handout*

From time to time, we will ask you to write a reading response, it is your responsibility to look at the class schedule for the recitation calendar to see when these are due. These are short (<300 words) commentaries in which you carefully observe one small part of a text. This is an opportunity to look carefully and to think about the text as a construction: to consider not only what a text is expressing but also how it is expressing it. You can choose any text assigned so far in the class.

This handout offers some terms and concepts to help you in the process of observation.

Please complete and post your reading response to our course website by midnight before recitation section, i.e. by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday (1/26/20). Come to class/recitation ready to talk about your response.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

OBSERVATION: Consider the Aspects of Formalist Criticism* as you read: 

  • Character
    • Flat: usually presents one idea or quality, doesn’t tend to change
    • Round or dynamic: complex, contradictory, changing, subtle variations in personality
  • Point of View:
    • First- person narrators
      • Self-conscious: aware that s/he is telling a story
      • Unreliable: what the narrator relates might be at odds with other characters or the ‘reality’ of the text
      • Innocent: doesn’t fully comprehend the implications of the events s/he is relating
  •       2nd person or 3rd person
  •       Omniscient: access to the thoughts and actions of all characters 
  •       limited omniscient: access to the thoughts and actions of some characters. 
  • Setting: the general local, historical time, and social circumstances of the narrative 
  • Symbol: a word, phrase, situation, action or object that has meaning beyond itself
  • Tone
    • Diction: words, phrases, sentence structure, and figurative language 
    • Irony 
      • verbal: the difference between what a character says and what s/he intends
      • situational: incongruity between what happens and what is expected
      •  dramatic: the author and audience have insights the characters do not
  • Theme: general claim, sometimes implicit sometimes overt, with which a text persuades its readers 
  • Tropes: figurative use of language such as simile, metaphor, personification, etc.




In writing about literature or any specific text, you will strengthen your discussion or argument if you offer specific passages from the text as evidence. Rather than simply dropping in quotations and expecting their significance and relevance to your argument to be self-evident, you need to provide sufficient analysis of the passage. Remember that your goal in analytic writing is to demonstrate some new understanding of the text. 

  1. What is the genre of a text? Ethnography, nonfiction, memoir, scientific article, poem, film—? 
  2. Find a passage that seems rich with significance, perhaps puzzling, perhaps disturbing, in some way a “hot spot” that stands out in the text. Read the passage again. 
  3. Circle key words: words that you don’t understand (look them up!), words that are repeated, words that appeal to your senses, words that stand out as striking, strange, curious.
  4. Double underline punctuation or sentence variation that strikes you. (None may strike you, but then perhaps find a different, richer passage?) 
  5. Ask questions of the passage: what might the writer mean calling your attention to “x”? Try to answer your question explaining why words, phrases, or punctuation drew your attention. 
  6. Pay attention to feeling. Is there a mood that arises from the writing? Do you have particular responses to it – find it amusing, disturbing, distasteful, embarrassing, confusing, upsetting–?
  7. Do you see a theme, or themes, emerging? Make a list.
  8. Note connections between this passage and the rest of the text. Link it to a similar passage (one with the same theme) and a dissimilar one (one on another theme). What do you notice from this juxtaposition? 
  9. Make connections between this text and other texts, issues, concepts, or terms that we’ve covered in this class. 
  10. Focus on WHY. Why is this important to note and share with your reader? 




Make sure to follow the formatting rules listed on this website:


*from MH Abrahms’s Glossary of Literary Terms, 5th ed. Fort Worth, TX: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1988.


How to Post Your Reading Responses to the Class Website

  1. Go to
  2. Go to “Sign In” and use your onyen.
  3. After you sign in, you should see a page that lists “My sites”
  4. Find our Class Website
  5. If you do not see our class, please email Grant Glass:
  6. Click on our class website. It will take you to You should see a little black bar across the top with your name on it. 
  7. At the top/middle of the website, you will see “+ New” Mouse over to this part and you will see a dropdown menu. Click on Post
  8. You will be brought to a page that looks like this “Add New Post” Create a Title for your Reading Response and copy/paste your response here. *I recommend writing it in word or google docs and pasting it in.
  9. Scroll down a little and make sure you select the corresponding Category for your Reading, “Berger” or “Frank- Wounded Storyteller” Tags are optional as well as an image.
  10. When you are satisfied with your post, click on “Publish”



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