The curriculum addresses the following objectives:

  • To develop awareness of foundational theories, approaches, and methods of this rapidly-developing interdisciplinary field, with particular emphasis on exploring what demarcates a discipline and what it means to cross disciplinary lines. Students will become familiar with the similarities and differences between the distinct cultures of medicine and the humanities, how those cultures shape our knowledge of ourselves, our bodies, illness and its treatment—and, especially, how they shape (and sometimes distort) how each views the other.
  • To provide a broad knowledge of core topics traditionally comprised within the medical humanities.  Students completing this degree will become familiar with approaches to specific topics within several fields, such as disability within literary studies and anthropology. The fundamental competency in this area involves mastering information, but even more it requires learning to distinguish relationships among a variety of ideas, practices and theoretical frames of reference.
  • To provide students from humanities and healthcare backgrounds a common ground, on which to exchange insights into and perspectives on illness, diagnosis and treatment, allowing them to transcend the disciplinary boundaries that shape the terrain of scholarship and healthcare.

To address these objectives, admitted students will work with the director to develop a plan of study for their coursework.

Here are two sample plans of study. (Courses change each year; these schedules represent an example of possible offerings that fulfill the distribution requirements).

An Intensive One-Year Plan of Study 

Summer 1 – PHIL 460 – Contemporary Topics in Ethics


  • ENGL 763 – Introduction to Graduate Studies in Literature, Medicine, and Culture
  • HNRS 650 – Politics of Life and Death
  • ANTH/ENGL 661 – ENGL 785 – Posthumanism
  • JOMC 560 – Medical Journalism


  • ENGL 805 – Life Writing: Rhetoric of Professional Identity
  • ANTH/ENGL 661 – Narrative, Literature, and Medicine
  • MEDI 231.003 – The Revenge of the Sick: History of Medicine
  • EPID 898 – Global Health Ethics


  • ENGL 992 – Non-thesis option

A Two-Year Plan of Study


  • ENGL 763 – Introduction to Graduate Studies in Literature, Medicine, and Culture
  • ANTH 898 – Problems in Ethnography of Medicine and Health


  • PHL 850 – Research Seminar in Philosophy of Science*
  • MEDI 231.006 – Language and Medicine
  • JOMC 561 – Medical and Science Video Storytelling


  • HIST 741 – Readings in the History of Medicine
  • ENGL 842 – Biological Aesthetics: Science, Literature, and the Body in Nineteenth-Century Britain
  • ANTH 897: Managing Medical Work: Technologies, Instrumentalities, and Institutional Contexts


  • ENGL 825 – Renaissance Literature in Context: “Early Modern Racialism”
  • ENGL 992 – Non-thesis Option

*This is an example of a course that a student may petition to include as credit toward the degree.