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The Literature of Care

ENGL 207.301
TR 10:30-12pm


How can the arts and humanities make us receptive to human vulnerability? How do they help us develop a capacity to respond to the suffering of others?  How does injury and trauma affect one’s relationship to language, memory and society? This course builds upon the recent “ethnographic turn” in the arts and humanities as well as discussions around narrative medicine and the medical humanities. Through a variety of literary works that foreground themes of compassion, resilience, empathy, and wellbeing, we will reflect on the power of listening and the way in which writing can function therapeutically for both the patient and caregiver.  We will engage the work of writers, scholars and practitioners in mapping a contemporary ethic and politics of care. We will also interact with contemporary discussions taking place at the Health Ecologies Lab, a public programming initiative at Penn Social Policy & Practice and Slought Foundation, and the Penn Medicine Listening Lab, a storytelling initiative that embraces the power of listening as a form of care.


Coure requirements include active prepartation, regular attendance, substantive participation in discussions and timely submission of assigned work. Assignments will include weekly postings on Canvas, weekly group presentations in class, a midterm paper and a final paper.



fulfills requirements
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major