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ENG395V - Literature, Medicine, and the Problem of Empathy


Subject code


Course Number




L. Nayder

Course Long Title

Literature, Medicine, and the Problem of Empathy


Exposure to works of literature is widely understood to help develop empathy in readers -- to enable us to forge connections and feel "as" others do -- and is increasingly built into medical education. But some critics and theorists remain skeptical of such claims, questioning easy equations between literature and "real life," or seeing in empathy itself a troubling and inequitable power dynamic. Students examine the alleged relation between literature and empathy, and consider the importance of empathy to the practice of medicine, the debate over the value of literature for medical education, and theories of empathy and its neuroscience. Readings include short stories, novels, poetry, and memoirs as well as critical and theoretical studies. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course.

Modes of Inquiry

Analysis and Critique [AC]

Writing Credit


Departmental Course Attributes - Major/Minor Requirements

(English: Post-1800)

Class Restriction

Exclude First Years, Exclude Sophomores