Medical Materialities

This course considers the importance of materiality in healing practices in a broad range of cultures and time periods, including our own. We will examine how perceptible bodily features, conditions, and excretions have been used to diagnose and explain states of illness and health, and the roles that the material and sensory qualities of substances and treatments have played in healing. Readings will draw primarily from the fields of medical anthropology, history of medicine, and material culture studies. The course will be organized thematically. Topics will include the body; healers and sufferers; folk and popular medicine; biomedicine; placebos; marketing of medicines; new technologies (of monitoring, reproduction, and transplants); and the impacts of material inequalities upon health. Class meetings will be seminar style. Assignments will include a research paper or project on a topic of your choice (digital projects are welcome), a presentation of your research project, and leading class discussion. There are no prerequisites. 3 credits.