Courses in the History of Medicine

Fall 2021

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: TBD
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 8830: Topics in HSTM, “History of Cycles, Clocks, and Chronobiology”

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

We take cycles in ourselves and other biological organisms for granted today.  Perhaps the best known of these are cycles connected with reproduction and circadian rhythms, but also cardiac cycles, neural discharge cycles and brain waves, annual rhythms in mood, and others.  Some of these cycles are just cycles, but many of them are rhythmic cycles.  In this seminar we will explore the history of scientific recognition and study of biological rhythms, chiefly in the 19th and 20th centuries, through structured weekly assigned readings and discussions, culminating in the articulation of the field as chronobiology and early 21st-century elaboration of biological clock mechanisms.  Behind this historical development are a host of scientific, engineering, medical, and philosophical perspectives, discoveries, experiments, and debates set in an institutional framework of disciplinary (or is it interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary?) formation.  Seminar participants are expected to pursue a personal historical research topic related to the broad topic within HSTM, as chronobiology impinges on the medical sciences, public health, and the agricultural sciences as well as having extensive components in the traditional biological, mathematical, and engineering sciences.

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.


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