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

Major: Narrative and Rhetorical Studies of Health

**This is an example of a med student who was able to transfer in 6 credit hours of graduate work in professional development (PD)


  • ENGL 695 – Research Seminar in Health Humanities
  • ANTH/ENGL 611 – Narrative, Literature, and Medicine
  • JOMC 560 – Medical Journalism
  • ENGL 696 – Health Humanities Colloquium (1 credit)


  • ENGL 697 – Internship
  • Engl 992 – Non-thesis option


  • ENGL 763 – Introduction to Graduate Studies in Literature, Medicine, and Culture
  • ENGL 785 – Posthumanism
  • ENGL 992 – Non-thesis option

A Two-Year Plan of Study

Major: Anthropology of Health

Fall I

  • ENGL 763 – Introduction to Graduate Studies in Literature, Medicine, and Culture
  • ANTH 898 – Problems in Ethnography of Medicine and Health
  • ENGL 611—The Illness Narrative

Spring I

  • PHL 850 – Research Seminar in Philosophy of Science
  • ENGL 695 – Research Seminar in Health Humanities
  • MEDI 231.006 – Language and Medicine


  • ENGL 697 – Internship

Fall II

  • HIST 741 – Readings in the History of Medicine
  • ANTH 897: Managing Medical Work: Technologies, Instrumentalities, and Institutional Contexts

Spring II

  • ENGL 992 – Non-thesis Option