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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Undergraduate Course: Medicine in Literature 2: Medical Ethics in Literature (ENLI10354)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines the representation of medical ethics in poetry, prose and drama from the late nineteenth century to the present day, tracing the development of medical ethics from a professional code of practice to the application of ethical reasoning to decision making.
Course description The course considers literary representations of ethical dilemmas encountered by medical professionals, philosophical frameworks used to negotiate competing ethical claims, and the dynamic relationship between medical practice and the humanities. English Literature and Medicine students will have the opportunity to bring the perspectives of the humanities to bear on medical ethics; but they will also be asked to critically examine the ethical positions and perspectives espoused by literary criticism and literary texts. Medical ethical frameworks will be subject to scrutiny, but so too will the ethical frameworks developed within medical humanities. The course will appeal to students who have a particular interest in ethics, the intersections between medicine, science and literature, and the medical/health humanities.
The course will achieve these aims by reading poems, plays, novels, fiction, and memoirs from the late nineteenth century to the present day, alongside various non-fiction sources.
Students who are interested in this course might also like to consider Medicine in Literature 1: Illness Narratives through History, which surveys related issues in writing from the Renaissance to the present day. Illness Narratives is not a prerequisite for this course.
Important Note re Content
In this course we will be discussing content that may be retraumatising to some students. We believe in the importance of engaging with this material and so please be assured that we will work with you to ensure you can participate fully and demonstrate your achievement of the learning outcomes of the course, without compromising your wellbeing or your academic development. If you have concerns at any point we invite you to contact the Course Organiser Dr Katherine Inglis at to discuss how we can best support you in your work on this course. We affirm that you will be treated with dignity and respect in all discussions and at every stage of the course.
Topics and texts on the course
Please note topics will not necessarily be covered in the order below. Longer texts are marked with an asterisk *. Texts available through LEARN are marked 'LEARN'. Ma Jian's Beijing Coma (2008) can be acquired easily from bookshops. The full resource list for this course can be found on the Library's Resource List site. We encourage you to access the Resource List and review material ahead of class.

Narrative Medicine, Narrative Ethics
Extract from British Medical Association Ethics Department, Medical Ethics Today (2004). (LEARN)
The Hippocratic Oath. (LEARN)
Extract from Arthur Frank, The Wounded Storyteller (1997)
Extract from Rita Charon, Narrative Medicine (2006)
Extract from James Phelan, 'Narrative Ethics' (2013, rev. 2014)
Paternalism; Violence
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper (1892) (LEARN)
Arthur Conan Doyle, 'The Case of Lady Sannox' (1894) (LEARN)
William Carlos Williams, 'The Use of Force' (1938) (LEARN)
Extract from Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010) (LEARN)
Extract from C. Riley Snorton, Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity (2017) (LEARN)
The Wounded Storyteller
Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis (1915) (LEARN)
Contagion and Public Health
*Albert Camus, The Plague (1947).* (LEARN)
Human Subjects
*Alasdair Gray, Poor Things (1992). (LEARN)*
Andrew Ure, 'An account of some experiments made on the body of a criminal immediately after execution, with physiological and practical observations', Journal of Science and the Arts 6, 283-294 (1819) (LEARN)
Anti-psychiatry and its legacies
Etheridge Knight, 'Hard Rock Returns to Prison from the Hospital for the Criminally Insane' (1968) (LEARN)
David Edgar and Mary Barnes, Mary Barnes (1979) (LEARN)
Extract from R.D. Laing, The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness (1960)* (LEARN)
Extract from Daryl Cunningham, Psychiatric Tales (2013) (LEARN)
Trans health
*Jackie Kay, Trumpet (1998)*
Sandy Stone, 'The Empire Strikes Back' (1987) (LEARN)
Judith Butler, Extract from Gender trouble (1990) (LEARN)
Neurocosmopolitanism; or, the ethics of literary criticism
Lisa Zunshine and Ralph Savarese, 'The Critic as Neurocosmopolite' (2014) (LEARN)
Extract from G. Thomas Couser, Vulnerable Subjects: Ethics and Life Writing (2003) (LEARN)
Intimations of Mortality
*Margaret Edison, W;t (2000)* (LEARN)
John Donne, 'Death, be not proud'; 'If poysonous mineralls' (1633) (LEARN)
Extract from Atul Gawande, Being Mortal (2014) (LEARN)

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Literary Studies 1A (ENLI08020) AND Literary Studies 1B (ENLI08021) OR English Literature 1 (ENLI08001) OR Scottish Literature 1 (ENLI08016) AND Literary Studies 2A: English Literature in the World, 1380-1788 (ENLI08024) AND Literary Studies 2B: English Literature in the World, post-1789 (ENLI08025) OR Scottish Literature 2A (ENLI08022) AND Scottish Literature 2B (ENLI08023) OR English Literature 2 (ENLI08003) OR Scottish Literature 2 (ENLI08004)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students admitted to the intercalated BMedSci are also eligible to take this course.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 2000 word coursework essay (30%) submitted mid-semester;
plus 3000 word final essay submitted during exam period (70%)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. By the end of the course, students will be able to demonstrate core skills in the study of English Literature: essay-writing, independent reading, group discussion, oral presentation, small-group autonomous learning
  2. - perform textual analyses of literary texts
  3. - demonstrate competency in interdisciplinary research, evidenced by writing two essays which consider the relationship between literature, medicine, and ethics
  4. - show their understanding of the relationship between literature, medicine, and ethics, as expressed in literary texts from the late nineteenth century to the present day
  5. - show their understanding of historical developments in principlist medical ethics, narrative medicine, and narrative ethics
Reading List
The reading list for this course can be found on the course Resource List. Essential readings are highlighted.
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information 2-hour Seminar per week for 10 weeks; plus 1 hour(s) per week attendance at autonomous learning group at time to be arranged.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Katherine Inglis
Tel: (0131 6)50 3617
Course secretaryMrs Anne Budo
Tel: (0131 6)50 4161
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