Courses in the History of Medicine

Fall 2023

HMED 3001W: Health Care in History I

Credits: 4
Lecture MWF: 10:10-11:00 am, plus one discussion section
Prerequisites: None
Instructor: Dr. Jole Shackelford
LE Requirements: Meets Historical Perspectives and Writing Intensive

A writing intensive survey of the history of Western biomedical ideas, research, and health care practices from the ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foundations to the early nineteenth century, and helps explain the origins and appeal of today's alternative medicines as well.


HMED 3075: Technology and Medicine in Modern America

Credits: 3
Lecture MW: 11:15-12:05, plus one discussion section
Prerequisites: None
Instructor: Dr. Evan Roberts
LE Requirements: Historical Perspectives and Technology & Society 

How did technology come to medicine’s center-stage? This course examines the impact of technology on the production of medical knowledge, professionalization, the development of medical institutions/industry relations, health policy, and gender and race disparities in health care.


HMED 3345: Medicine, Health, and Diseases in East Asia

Credits: 3
Lecture TTH: 9:45-11:00am
Prerequisites: None
Instructor: Dr. Wayne Soon
LE Requirements: Global Perspectives and Historical Perspectives 

This course explores the history of medicine and society in East Asia from the ancient period to the present day. From the globalization of acupuncture practices to the fight against the deadly SARS and COVID viruses, East and Southeast Asians in their homelands and abroad have sought to develop, transform, and disseminate their ways of healing. By critically examining how physicians, nurses, patients, politicians understood diseases, healthcare, and the body in East Asia temporally, this course critically examines the persistence, transformation, and globalization of classical medicine in the region and beyond. Topics covered include the history of traditional Chinese medicine, the encounters of Asian medicine with Western biomedicine, the contestation over vaccination and pharmaceuticals, the role of colonialism in shaping medical practices, the construction of gender in medicine, and the imaginations of Asian medicine in the United States.


HMED 8001: History of Early Medicine

Credits: 3
Monday seminar: 3:35 - 5:30 pm
Prerequisites: Graduate level
Instructor: Dr. Jole Shackelford

This graduate-level seminar explores the history of primarily western medicine, from professionalization of healing in Greco-Egyptian antiquity to association of postmortem pathology with disease and the clinical movement of early 19th-century Paris.


HMED 8112: Research Methods in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

Credits: 3
Wednesday seminar: 3:35 - 5:30 pm
Prerequisites: Graduate level
Instructor: HSTM Faculty

This graduate-level seminar is an introduction to sources, methods, and problems of research in the history of science, technology, and medicine. The seminar involves the preparation of a major research paper under faculty supervision. This course meets with HSCI 8112.


HMED 7500: Historical Research for Medical Students

Course Availability
Length: 3, 4, or 6 weeks
Periods offered: By arrangement
Sites: Biomedical Library and Wangensteen Historical Library, Diehl Hall
Limit: 5
Prerequisites: none
Course director: HMED Faculty
Contact: Dr. Jennifer Gunn, (612) 624-1909, Dr. Jole Shackelford, (612) 624-4499
Report first day: By appointment at History of Medicine Office, 511A Diehl Hall

This course is designed to acquaint third and fourth year medical students with the sources and the methods of historical research in medical topics and to allow them to undertake a short research project on a topic which they help design. Possible topics include the development of the specialty they plan to enter, the history of a particular disease, or aspects of the health care system. The research project will result in a short paper.

Competencies and Objectives

  • To learn some of the basic issues and sources in the history of medicine.
  • To design a historical research project.
  • To gain familiarity with how historical sources may be found and to use a historical library or archive for research purposes.
  • To prepare a research paper in medical history using the standard scholarly apparatus to make and document an argument or interpretation.

Student Assessment

Students will be evaluated on the interest and importance of their topic, on the quality of their research, and on their success in making and supporting an argument or interpretation in their paper.

Special Instructions

At least two weeks before the period begins, contact one of the instructors to discuss your interest with him/her.