Course Schedule - Summer Semester 2024


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Additional information available here.

MDHM 280 901 (CRN: 31545)


Department: Medical Humanities
Instructor: Alexander, Travis
Meeting: 11:30AM - 2:25PM MW (10-JUN-2024 - 26-JUL-2024) 
Part of Term: Summer Block E1 (7 Wk)
Grade Mode: Standard Letter
Course Type: Lecture
Language of Instruction: Taught in English
Method of Instruction: Online
Credit Hours: 3
Course Syllabus:
Course Materials: Rice Campus Store
Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s):
Undergraduate Professional
Visiting Undergraduate
Must not belong to one of the following Cohort(s):
Fall 2024 UG New First Time
Fall 2024 New UG Transfer
Section Max Enrollment: 20
Section Enrolled: 1
Enrollment data as of: 21-MAY-2024 6:57PM
Additional Fees: None
Final Exam: Scheduled Online Final Exam
Description: Medicine is scary business. So is the body. This course proposes to document the role of literature, painting, popular music, and, especially, cinema have played in memorializing our shared dread over not just the human body’s failures, but also their treatment. While primarily focused on the American twentieth century, this course will begin in Romantic-era Britain with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and will culminate in the very-recent past with Jordan Peele’s Get Out. Along the way, we will attend to the 70s slasher film, the work of body horror’s cinematic dean, David Cronenberg, Japanese cyberpunk, extreme metal and grindcore lyrics, the paintings of Lucien Freud and Francis Bacon, high postmodern literature, any many more texts. We will propose to ask what these narratives can tell us about why we fear the body & its dangers, as well as how that anxiety has changed over time, both in response to changing medical/surgical technology and other developments. These questions will in turn find us asking whether the horrors of embodiment and medicine are inflected by the specificities of the body in question—axes, that is to say, of gender, sex, sexuality, race, and ability. Is there a reason why the overwhelming majority of directors working in medical horror are straight white men? Do depictions of medical aberrations stage and exorcise fears about the otherness about the nonwhite, queer, or female body? Do they enact sadistic fantasies of seeing into—and possibly destroying—these bodies? This course counts towards the elective requirements for the MDHM minor.