Exploring Wellcome Collection: Medicine and Literature

Year of entry




This Short Course, set up in partnership with the Wellcome Collection, explores the relationship between literature, medicine and history by examining how patients and their bodies, and doctors and their cures, have been represented in imaginary literature in modern Europe. Focusing on fictional narratives, their content and their context, we will think about the changing relationship between reality and imagination, creativity and objectivity and discuss shifting ideas about representation in the making of the modern world and the history of medicine in the West.

Each week we will look at a different work of European fiction and discuss some of its themes in relation to medicine, science, the body and medical history. You are expected to read the 'book of the week' and come to class prepared, having studied some of the additional reading as well, bringing with you ideas to share. In every session, 1 student will introduce the work in a short presentation based on their reading and interpretation highlighting a particular topic in the novel that interested them.

Also, some recent works of literary fiction shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize will be discussed, including

  • Jonny Steinberg, Tree Letter Plague.
  • Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone.
  • Lionel Shriver, So Much for That.
  • Alice LaPlante, Turn of Mind.
  • Philip Roth, Nemesis.
  • Louisa Young, My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You.
  • Ann Patchett, State of Wonder.
  • Mohammed Hanif, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti.
  • Elisabeth Gilbert, The Signature of All Things.
  • Rose Tremain, Merivel.
  • Peter James, Perfect People.

This Short Course can be taken as a stand-alone course or it may be available as part of a Certificate of Higher Education.

15 credits at level 4

Book an open evening Financial support Contact us

First class: Thu 26-Apr-18 6pm-8pm

Class location Central London
Class code SSHC354H4ACB

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