Courses in the History of Medicine

Spring 2020

HMED 3002W: Health Care in History II

Credits: 4
Lecture M,W,F: 10:10-11:00 am, plus discussion section
Prerequisites: None
Instructor: Elizabeth Semler
LE Requirements: Meets Historical Perspectives and Writing Intensive

Explores the history of medicine from the late 1700s through present day. It uses disease as a framework to look at the ways in which medical knowledge, the practice of medicine, and the experience of providers and patients has changed over time. Hands-on work with archival materials from places like the Wangensteen Historical Library reveal that diseases are more than just objective, biological entities. They are also cultural constructs that are deeply entwined with social, political, and economic factors.

HMED 3040: Human Health, Disease, and the Environment in History

Credits: 3
Lecture Tu,Th: 9:45-11:00am
Prerequisites: None
Instructor: Dr. Jennifer Gunn
LE Requirements: Meets Historical Perspectives

Introduction to historical relationship of human health and the environment. How natural/human-induced environmental changes have, over time, altered our experiences with disease and our prospects for health.

HMED 3055: Women, Health, and History

Credits: 3
Lecture Tu,Th: 11:15am-12:30pm
Prerequisites: None
Instructor: Dr. Dominique Tobbell
LE Requirements: Meets Diversity and Social Justice in the US, and Historical Perspectives

Explores women's historical roles as healers, patients, research subjects, health activists. Investigates issues and areas such as biological determinism, reproduction, mental health, nursing, women physicians, public health reformers, alternative practitioners. Gender disparities in diagnosis, treatment, research, careers. Assignments allow students to explore individual interests.

HMED 4965W: Senior Research in Medical History

Credits: 3
Thursday seminar: 2:30 – 5:00 pm
Prerequisites: Senior
Instructor: Dr. Peter Kernahan
LE Requirements: Writing Intensive 

Designed to help students plan and complete an original senior paper using historical and social science research methods. Includes discussing and practicing critical reading, developing research questions for a semester project, evaluating sources, and using both primary and secondary materials. Intended for students working on final projects for the Biology, Society and Environment major, UROP, honors theses, and disciplines where historical research methods are required.

HMED 5940: Archiving the Pre-Modern Body (Topics Course)

Credits: 3
Tuesday seminar: 1:00 – 3:30 pm
Prerequisites: Upper-level undergraduate, or graduate level
Instructors: Dr. Francesca Bortoletti, Dr. Jennifer Row
Cross-listed: FRIT 

From disabled bodies to idealized nudes, sodomites to racialized bodies, the human body was the object of artistic celebration and scientific scrutiny in the early modern period. This class will build upon methods from the history of medicine, literature, and performance studies to examine bodies both normative and non-normative. The Wangensteen Library archives serve as our "laboratory" in which we will study representations of the human body from 1500-1800: beauty, nudes, pregnancy, disability, sexuality, and more. The course will culminate in a showcase of student research on an original topic of choice: a collaborative virtual exhibit on common and uncommon bodies.

HMED 8135: Foundations in the History of Modern Medicine, 1800-present

Credits: 3
Wednesday seminar: 3:35 - 5:30 pm
Prerequisites: Graduate level
Instructor: Dr. Dominique Tobbell

Examines how concepts of disease and health have changed over time and across place. Moves from debates over the identity of the Black Death in 14th century Europe to the treatment of infectious diseases in Imperial China and colonial India, and to the contested diagnoses of AIDS and fetal alcohol syndrome in late 20th century United States. Examines the processes of medicalization and demedicalization; colonialism, post-colonialism, and the politics of state-building; the ecological understandings of disease, environmentalism, and the politics of place; and the increasingly visible role of the politicized consumer and patient activist in late 20th century health care politics.

HMED 8113: Research Methods in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

Credits: 3
Thursday seminar: 2:25 – 4:45 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 8113.

HMED 7500: Historical Research for Medical Students

Course Availability
 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. Dominique A Tobbell, (612) 626-5114, 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 & 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.

Contact Program in the History of Medicine

Diehl Hall (511A)
505 Essex Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455

Mail: Mayo Building (MMC 506)
420 Delaware St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455

Phone: 612-624-4416 | Fax: 612-625-7938