Spring 2016 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Gossin, Pamela
Discipline and Number
ARHM 3342 Section 501
R Time 7:00 PM - 9:45 PM
Course Title
Natural Wonders / Activist Human

Description of Course:

ARHM 3342
Advanced Topics in the Arts and Humanities:
Natural Wonders / Activist Humanities

Course Description:
In this course we will explore concepts of nature and human nature through various forms of literary, scientific and medical writing, including: nature writing, nature poetry, science fiction, scientific and medical essays, and film. We will consider complex ethical issues that arise from new discoveries in medicine and the sciences. We will learn a variety of ways to “read” and “write” about nature and human nature and consider how such texts are “artful” as well as “scientific.” We will learn to identify visual and verbal rhetorical strategies (persuasive techniques) that are widely used in all forms of communication and enhance our understanding and use of the power of clear, creative and purposeful expression.

Some of the interesting questions we will examine include:
What is nature? What is “natural”? How do we value the natural world? How did medical and scientific ways of knowing about life (human and otherwise) develop? How have medical ethics developed? To what extent can medicine be considered an art, a science, an applied technology? How can the ancient “technologies” of reading and writing help us adapt to our rapidly changing social and global world and empower us to meet present and future challenges?

Course Format:
Primarily discussion with a few descriptive or informative mini-lectures and videos, and will include special presentations/lectures on animated representations of nature and literature and medicine. By popular demand, students will have the option of working on “personal statements” for applications to Medical School / Graduate School for extra credit.

Undergraduate Catalog Course Description:
ARHM 3342 Advanced Topics in the Arts and Humanities (3 semester credit hours). Focuses on a significant topic or issue through which students are offered an opportunity to gain experience in various analytic and interpretive approaches. Explores interdisciplinary connections among artistic and intellectual endeavors appropriate to a range of courses in the Arts and Humanities. Topics may include the convergence of the liberal arts (Arts and Performance, Historical Studies, and Literary Studies) with advanced technology (Arts and Technology and Emerging Media and Communication). May be repeated for credit (9 semester credit hours maximum). Prerequisites: (HUMA 1301 or equivalent) and RHET 1302. (3-0) R

*NOTE: This section adds an additional twist to this purpose: helping students explore the interdisciplinary relations between the arts / humanities and science / medicine and is especially intended to serve students working toward the minor in Medical and Scientific Humanities (MaSH) as well as pre-health students, creative writers, and future teachers.

* This course counts toward the minor in Medical and Scientific Humanities (MaSH) *

Course Objectives:
Students will read and discuss a wide variety of literary forms and genres, demonstrating the ability to interpret and analyze themes and issues using various critical methods, including formal, historical, biographical and cultural approaches. Students will experiment with writing many different forms of literary expression, including poetry, descriptive prose, expository prose, 1st-person narratives and rhetorical argument. Students will write 1 analytical and interpretative essay, 1 objective exam and collaboratively produce 1 creative “humanities-in-action” project.

Required Texts:

Required Texts:

1. Reading the Environment (abbreviated in syllabus as RE), ed. Melissa Walker, Norton, 1994
# ISBN-10: 0393965090 # ISBN-13: 978-0393965094

2. ELECTRONIC RESERVE and 2 HR RESERVE: Science and the Human Spirit, (SHS); Fred White, ed.
(Please download and/or print these and bring them for use in class discussion)

3. Willa Cather, O Pioneers, Dover, 1993
# ISBN-10: 0486277852 # ISBN-13: 978-0486277851

4. Miyazaki, Hayao, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (vol. 1; Simon/Shuster; graphic novel/paperback) #ISBN 9781591164081

5. One Additional "Inspiration" text for Final Project . . . to be selected from list provided.


Pam Houston, Cowboys are my Weakness Washington Sq P, 1993. ISBN-10: 0671793888 ISBN-13: 978-0671793883

A. Ralston, 127 Hours: Between and Rock and a Hard Place ISBN-10: 1451618506

Audrey Young, What Patients Taught Me . . . Sasquatch, 2007. ISBN-10: 1570615276 ISBN-13: 978-1570615276

J. Groopman, Your Medical Mind Penguin, 2012 (paperback) ISBN-10: 014312224X ISBN-13: 978-0143122241

A Life in Medicine: A Literary Anthology, Robert Coles, ed. ISBN-10: 1565847296 ISBN-13: 978-1565847293

J. Goodall, A Reason for Hope

R. Carson, Silent Spring

M. Pollan, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation OR The Omnivore’s Dilemma OR In Defense of Food

Gladwell, M. Outliers, The Story of Success 2011 (paperback) ISBN-10: 0316017930 ISBN-13: 978-0316017930

Silver, Nate The Signal and the Noise Penguin, 2012 (pbk) ISBN-10: 159420411X ISBN-13: 978-1594204111

Almond, Steve. Against Football, 2014.

* Ellenberg, Jordan. How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking. Penguin, 2014
ISBN-10: 1594205221 ISBN-13: 978-1594205224

* Carey, Benedict. How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why it Happens.
ISBN-10: 0812993888 ISBN-13: 978-0812993882

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:


- Attendance and participation (aka “A&P”): READING JOURNALS, quizzes, in-class writing, study sheets, discussion + at least 3 “extra credit/enrichment” activities* = 1/3rd

- one 3pp analytical and interpretative paper (counts as 30pts of 100pt midterm) plus “objective” in-class midterm exams = 1/3rd

- Final Project: Individual Paper/Write-up + collaborative group/in-class presentation = 1/3rd

* Enrichment opportunities will enhance your A&P grade. At least 3 of these are required. Some of these are listed on the syllabus. Additional activities may be used for Extra Credit. Listen in class for additional ideas and info.

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