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The following courses are being offered during the Spring 2020 semester. All of the courses listed are related to the health humanities and qualify for the undergraduate Literature, Medicine, and Culture minor and/or MA concentration in Literature, Medicine, and Culture. This is list is not yet complete and will be regularly updated.

American Studies

AMST 641: Communicating Water Challenges of Climate Change with the Visual and Performing Arts 
Rachel Willis | MW 3:35-4:50PM

Climate change means water challenges that threaten people, property, and the existence of nation states. Severe precipitation events from warmer air holding more water, sea-level rise, and more intense hurricanes, mean flooding, water quality, and foodshed issues for more than half the world’s population. Drought, resulting wildfires, and the availability of life-sustaining water is a problem in others. The visual and performing arts are used to explore more effective ways to communicate this growing crisis.

AMST 715: Community Histories and Public Humanities 
Robert Allen | W 5:00-7:50PM

Community Histories and Public Humanities explores how communities have been, are, and might be preserved, documented, represented, and remembered. Focuses on the use of digitized primary sources and tools to engage communities in public history/humanities initiatives using interdisciplinary approaches informed by American Studies and Folklore. Participants have opportunity to work on ongoing community history/archiving projects. Project-based work is supported by reading in memory studies, representation, sites of trauma, community archiving, and oral history.


ANTH 147: Comparative Healing Systems 
Peter Redfield | TuTh 12:30-1:45PM + Recitation

In this course we compare a variety of healing beliefs and practices so that students may gain a better understanding of their own society, culture, and medical system.

ANTH 270: Living Medicine
Martha King | MWF 1:25-2:15PM + Recitation

This course examines the social and cultural experience of medicine, the interpersonal and personal aspects of healing and being healed. It explores how medicine shapes and is shaped by those who inhabit this vital arena of human interaction: physicians, nurses, other professionals and administrators; patients; families; friends and advocates.

ANTH 272/ENGL 264: Healing in Ethnography and Literature
Michele Rivkin-Fish & Jane Thrailkill | MWF 1:25-2:15PM + Recitation

This course brings together literary and ethnographic methods to explore narratives of illness, suffering, and healing, and medicine’s roles in these processes. Themes include illness narratives, outbreak narratives, collective memory and healing from social trauma, and healers’ memoirs.

ANTH 319: Global Health 
Amanda Thompson | MWF 10:10-11AM + Recitation

This class explores some of the historical, biological, economic, medical, and social issues surrounding globalization and health consequences.

ANTH 326: Practicing Medical Anthropology 
Martha King | TuTh 12:30-1:45PM

A workshop on careers in medical anthropology and the kinds of contributions that medical anthropologists make to health care professions. Students will learn skills including interviewing methods, writing for diverse audiences, blogging. Intended for medical anthropology minors and students interested in bringing anthropological perspectives to a range of practical contexts. Add Consent: Instructor Consent Required.

ANTH 446: Poverty, Inequality, Health
Mark Sorensen | MWF 11:15-12:05PM

This course examines poverty, inequalities, and health from a global and historical perspective. We will study the role of sociopolitical context, individual behavior, and human biology, and will pay particular attention to the roles of psychosocial stress, material conditions, and policy in shaping health differences within and between populations.

ANTH 470/FOLK 470: Medicine and Anthropology
Martha King | TuTh 9:30-10:45AM + Recitation

This course examines cultural understandings of health, illness, and medical systems from an anthropological perspective with a special focus on Western medicine.

ANTH 539: Environmental Justice
Sandy Smith-Nonini | TuTh 11:00AM-12:15PM

Course examining issues of race, poverty, and equity in the environmental movement. Cases include the siting of toxic incinerators in predominantly people-of-color communities to resource exploitation on indigenous lands.
ANTH 623: Human Disease Ecology

Mark Sorensen | W 12:20-2:50PM

This seminar considers cultural ecologies of disease by examining how social, cultural, and historical factors shape disease patterns. We examine how ecosystems are shaped by disease, how disease shapes ecosystems, and how cultural processes (e.g., population movements, transportation, economic shifts, landscape modifications, and built environments) contribute to emerging infectious disease.

ANTH 690: Living, Healing, and Dying in Russia
Michele Rivkin-Fish & Jehanne Gheith (Duke) | T 6:30-8:45PM

This course explores the ways cultural & historical forces shape the life course and the stories told to make sense of them. Specifically, we examine the changing experiences of living, suffering, healing, and dying in Russia through key moments of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Team taught by a professor of anthropology and a professor of literature/bereavement counselor, we will focus on ethnographic and literary texts as windows onto cultural values, concerns, and debates that have shaped everyday life in Russia. Topics include family life, sexuality, childbearing and its prevention; health care and alternative healing; survival and the struggle for dignity in gulag (concentration camp) conditions; and care for the dead and dying. By examining compelling works from a range of genres—the short story, the ethnographic case study, the memoir, and the novel—students will learn analytical techniques from both anthropology and literary studies. Knowledge of Russian is not required.

Note: This class is a combined UNC-Duke course. Half of the semester, the course will meet at UNC and half the semester at Duke. For more information, contact Prof. Rivkin-Fish at

ANTH 777: Human Rights and Humanitarianism
Peter Redfield | Th 3:30-6:00PM

This seminar examines human rights claims and contemporary moral discourse about human suffering from the perspective of anthropology.

ANTH 860/FOLK 860: Art of Ethnography
Glenn Hinson | TuTh 2:00-3:15PM

A field-based exploration of the pragmatic, ethical, and theoretical dimensions of ethnographic research, addressing issues of experience, aesthetics, authority, and worldview through the lens of cultural encounter. Field research required.

English and Comparative Literature

ENGL 71H: First-year Seminar: Doctors and Patients
Kym Weed | MWF 9:05-9:55AM

This course explores the human struggle to make sense of suffering and debility. Divided into five units, the course will allow students to explore not just the medical, but also the personal, ethical, cultural, spiritual, and political facets of illness from the perspectives of patients, healers, and families. Central texts may include Abby Norman’s Ask Me About My Uterus, Damon Tweedy’s Black Man in a White Coat, and Jennifer Brea’s (dir.) Unrest. Students will also read shorter selections from an array of authors, such as Atul Gawande, Bettina Judd, Arthur Kleinman, Audre Lorde, Mia Mingus, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, and Susan Sontag. Additionally, students will utilize the growing archive of oral histories from the Stories to Save Lives project to learn more about the experiences of patients, healers, caregivers, and families from across North Carolina.

CMPL 246. Body Politics in Modern Korean Literature. 3 Credits.

Johnathan Kief | TR 11:00am-12:15pm 

This course introduces students to debates in classical and post-classical film theory. Likely topics include medium specificity; the ideological functions of narrative cinema; film theory’s investments in psychoanalysis, linguistics, semiotics, and phenomenology; the advent of digital media; feminism; national and transnational cinema; spectatorship; authorship; genre theory; and film and philosophy.

ENGL 264/ANTH 272: Healing in Ethnography and Literature 
Jane Thrailkill & Michele Rivkin-Fish | MWF 1:25-2:15PM and Recitation

This course brings together literary and ethnographic methods to explore narratives of illness, suffering, and healing, and medicine’s roles in these processes. Themes include illness narratives, outbreak narratives, collective memory and healing from social trauma, and healers’ memoirs.

ENGL 269: Introduction to Disability Studies
Kym Weed | MWF 11:15 -12:05PM

This course will introduce students to key critical concepts and debates in the interdisciplinary field of Disability Studies by drawing on multiple disciplinary perspectives. Through readings (critical essays, fiction, memoir, poetry, and film), guest lectures, and professor and student-led discussion, students in this course will be introduced to the biomedical, social, minority, and justice models of disability; explore the histories of particular disability communities and activists; examine representations of disability from across historical periods and cultural contexts; and study how multiple forms of inequality and oppression intersect with disability and disability justice work.

Note: ENGL 269 counts for the Dept. of ECL Concentrations in Science, Medicine, & Literature and Social Justice.

ENGL 300I: Professional Writing in Health and Medicine
Cynthia Current | 2:00-3:15PM

Advanced practice with writing about health from medical and humanistic perspectives, ranging from grant proposals to qualitative research articles to the the personal illness narrative.

ENGL 695: Health and Humanities: Intensive Research Practice
Jane Thrailkill | Th 2:00-4:50PM

In this project-centered course, you will learn about health humanities as an interdisciplinary field and try out different qualitative research techniques. Our class theme is Aging: what the writer Robin Morgan described as “a place of merciless poetry,” “fierce discipline,” and “quiet beauty.” Accordingly, course texts will include literary, artistic, and expressive works that address such topics as longevity, frailty, resilience, disability, community, solitude, mortality, and spirituality. We will also read more medically oriented materials drawn from anthropology, occupational therapy, geriatrics and the health sciences. Because this is a skills-based course, the reading assignments for ENGL 695 are relatively short (roughly 50 pp per week). Over the semester, students will keep a lab notebook, write short response papers, complete CITI ethics training (authorizing you to participate in human subject research), write ethnographic reflections, engage in analysis of narrative data, develop a research project (individual or team-based), write a SURF grant application, and participate in a poster presentation.

Course Overview:

UNIT ONE (January-February): The first half of the semester will be devoted to developing skills in observation, reflection, and inquiry through hands-on experiences:

  1. Involvement in an innovative IPE project (interprofessional education) that brings together nine health science units at UNC (Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Nutrition, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy, and Social Work)
  2. Visits to UNC libraries (Wilson Library Special Collections, Health Sciences Library) to acquaint students with the some of the vast materials available on campus.
  3. Attendance at selected Carolina Performing Arts and Ackland Museum events and participation in interdisciplinary conversations about art and aging.

UNIT TWO (March-April): The second half of the semester will provide space for development and deepening of student projects and further exploration of research methods and models. The final exam for the course will be a poster presentation in HHIVE Lab.

To learn more about ENGL 695, please email the professor: Jane Thrailkill,

Note: ENGL 695 counts for the Med/Lit/Culture Minor and MA, the (upcoming) Graduate Certificate in Health Humanities, and the Dept. of ECL Concentration in Science, Medicine, & Literature.

Health Policy and Management

HPM 757: Health Reform
Johnathan Oberlander | Tu 2:00-4:45PM

This course focuses on the political and policy dynamics of health care reform.


HNRS 355: Narrative and Medicine
Terry Hot | TBD

This seminar explores the role of narrative in medicine from two sides: the patient’s experience of illness, and the experience of caring for the sick. As a writing workshop, this course offers students a supportive environment in which to explore their own experiences and refine their writing skills. It also provides an opportunity for service work in a variety of clinical settings, in which students will have a chance to participate in medical care. Taught by a clinician-writer with years of experience in medical care, professional publication, and workshop instruction, this course offers a rare opportunity to learn from a highly skilled professional engaged in the central concerns of his work.

Media and Journalism

MEJO 560: Environmental and Science Journalism
Tom Linden | MW 2:00-3:15PM

The purpose of this course is to teach an appreciation of environmental and science journalism and provide you with skills to report on environmental and science news for a variety of media, principally print or text, but also video and audio.

MEJO 795: E-Health

An overview of the positive and negative impacts of the Internet on public health. Covers research, evaluation sites, ethics, and use of theory that addresses key public health problems.

Occupational Science

OCSC 890: “Exploring Elderhood: The Best Years of Our Lives” Film Series and Seminar

Jenny Womack | Th 2:00-4:50PM

This graduate course focused on later life consists of a film series and discussion seminar exploring concepts of elderhood from multicultural perspectives. While the beginning and ending class sessions will be held on campus, the films and related discussions will be held at the Chapel Hill Public Library during class meeting times. Students enrolled in the course will interact with community elders and undertake a critical analysis of societal representations of aging. Co-sponsored by the UNC Partnerships in Aging program and the Division of Occupational Science & Therapy, the series will be moderated by Dr. Bolton Anthony, a visiting scholar and writer whose work on mindfulness, service and community has informed and inspired many conversations around re-imagining possibilities in the second half of life ( Dr. Jenny Womack, Professor in Occupational Science, will coordinate student engagement and course assignments in alignment with the foundational discipline of Occupational Science.

Note: This seminar is open to graduate students and upper level undergraduates (by permission) across disciplines who have an interest in aging. Register for OCSC 890 section 002.


PHIL 165: Bioethics

Alex Marcoci | MWF 1:25-2:15PM

PHIL 170: Liberty, Rights, and Responsibilities: Introduction to Social Ethics and Political Thought

Michaela Tiller | TR 2:00 – 3:15PM

PHIL 750: Advanced Studies in the Philosophy of Science

John T. Roberts | W 1:00-3:30PM

This course will be a seminar on counterfactual conditionals, i.e. conditional statements in the subjunctive mood in which the antecedent is (typically presumptively) false, for example:  “If Oswald had not shot Kennedy, then somebody else would have”; “If kangaroos had no tails, then they would topple over”; “If the early universe had been much more massive than it actually was, then it would quickly have collapsed on itself in a big crunch”; “If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride”; and “If it weren’t for you and your meddling, then none of this awful stuff would have happened.”  Counterfactuals are interesting to philosophers not only in their own right, but also because they are intimately connected to many other topics of philosophical interest, including (but not limited to) causation, explanation (scientific and otherwise), laws of nature, powers and dispositions, free action and moral responsibility, interventions, and dependency relations.  We will begin by reviewing some of the classic works (by Nelson Goodman and David Lewis, inter alia) which kicked off the modern philosophical conversation on this topic.  But for most of the semester we will be focused on recent research into the semantics and logic of counterfactuals and their roles within the philosophy of science.

Public Policy

PLCY 565/HPM 565: Global Health Policy

Benjamin Meier | TuTh 11:00AM-12:15PM

Coursework will focus on public policy approaches to global health, employing interdisciplinary methodologies to understand selected public health policies, programs, and interventions. For students who have a basic understanding of public health.


SOCI 422: Sociology of Mental Health and Illness

Taylor Hargrove | TuTh 11:00AM-12:15PM or 12:30-1:45PM

Examines the uniqueness of the sociological perspective in understanding mental health and illness. Draws up on various theoretical perspectives to best understand patterns, trends, and definitions of mental health and illness in social context. Focuses on how social factors influences definitions, perceptions, patterns, and trends of mental health and illness.

SOCI 469: Health and Society

Katrina Branecky | MWF 2:30-3:20PM

The primary objective of the course is to explain how and why particular social arrangements affect the types and distribution of diseases, as well as the types of health promotion and disease prevention practices that societies promote.

Women’s and Gender Studies

WMST 278/ANTH 278: Women in Science

Nichole Else-Quest | TuTh 9:30-10:45AM

The role of women in scientific domains throughout history and a consideration of the status of women and men as scientists. The development of science as a cultural practice.