Literature, Medicine, and Culture MA Degree Requirements

General requirements:

Conforming to Graduate School requirements for the MA, each candidate will complete thirty hours of study in the field, organized as follows.

  • Students will satisfy three hours through the required “Methods” course, a broad-based exploration of theory and practice within the field.  This course will concentrate on the commonalities and differences among assumptions about medicine and culture when approached through the humanities and social sciences or through various kinds of professional practice, including medicine, journalism, psychology, nursing, social work, physical, occupational and speech therapy.  This course will be team-taught by one faculty member from English and one from Social Medicine, with extensive participation from faculty and practitioners in other fields in the humanities and healthcare.
  • A non-thesis option (3 credit hours) as allowed by The Graduate School.  Normally, the non-thesis option will involve work on a substantial paper developed for scholarly publication, culminating in an oral defense before a thesis advisor and a second reader.  These projects can be based on field work in clinical settings, purely scholarly research, or a combination of the two.
  • For the remaining eight courses (24 hours), students will choose two courses each from four of the nine topics that structure the curriculum. Though each course is usually cross-listed between two topics, such courses (or any other single course) can satisfy only one topic requirement.  Cross-listings allow students with an interest in a particular area to achieve depth in this area. At the same time, completing four topics ensures the breadth of knowledge necessary for mastery at the MA level of the field of literature, medicine and culture as a whole.

The oral defense of the non-thesis option project constitutes the exam for this MA subplan. 

Topics of Study:

  • Constructions of the Body/the Human
  • Constructions of Illness
  • Constructions of Medical Experience/Medical Subject
  • Constructions of Medical Practice
  • Ethics
  • Global Medicine
  • History of Medicine
  • Medical Texts/Literary Forms
  • Theoretical/Practice  

MA students may also petition the subplan Director—beforehand except in exceptional circumstances (such as previous graduate work already completed before admission)—to have up to 9 hours of credit from graduate courses not included in the course listings below count toward these requirements. Students will need to provide a complete syllabus of readings and requirements and a short statement of how these satisfy work in a specific topic.  

Candidates should note that courses listed here may not be offered every year, that enrollment may be limited, and that permission of the instructor may be required. Candidates are encouraged to contact instructors at their earliest opportunity to determine when or if courses they intend to take will be available, and to obtain permission to register, if necessary. Please note as well that this listing will change as new courses come on line; candidates are advised to review this list before the registration period every semester.