Health, Science, Medicine (HIST*6570) | College of Arts

Health, Science, Medicine (HIST*6570)

Code and section: HIST*6570*01

Term: Winter 2024


Course Format:

1 3-hour seminar per week, in person 

Course Synopsis:

This course will focus on the history of medicine, health, and disease in North American history through a close examination of the debates and themes that have shaped the history of medicine as a field. Our focus will be primarily on examples that cover the American context, but the Canadian sphere will be addressed as well. We will examine the changing ways in which historians have told the story of medicine, from triumphalist narratives of institutional and scientific progress to stories that recover the voices of patients and highlight the complex relations between medicine, society, and culture. Topics will include patient histories, scientific medicine, epidemic disease, the rise of the hospital system, mental hygiene movements, professionalization, medicine and politics, public health, psychiatry, global health, and the ways in which gender, race, and class intersect with medicine, health, and disease. Students will be evaluated according to seminar discussions and presentations, a peer review, and a historiographical essay. Prior experience in history of science and/or medicine is not necessary for success in this course.

Learning Outcomes: 

Upon successful completion of this course, student will have learned to: 

  • master the historiography of modern American medicine and its key issues; 
  • master skills in analyzing and discussing scholarship in the history of medicine; 
  • master skills in writing historiographical work; 
  • master skills in the process of peer review. 

Methods of Evaluation and Weights

Participation - 25%
Seminar Presentation 1 - 10%
Seminar Presentation 2 - 15%
Essay Presentation - 10%
Peer Review - 10%
Historiographical essay (18-20 pages) - 30%

Required Texts:

We will be reading a set of classical and transformative texts and articles in the history of medicine.


*Please note: This is a preliminary web course description only. The department reserves the right to change without notice any information in this description. The final, binding course outline will be distributed in the first class of the semester.

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