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Literature of Care

ENGL 2530.301
M 12:00-2:59pm


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 will engage the work of writers, scholars, and care providers in mapping a contemporary ethic and politics of care, building upon the recent “ethnographic turn” as well as recent developments in the medical humanities. Through a variety of literary works that foreground themes of compassion, resilience, empathy, and wellbeing, as well as emerging narratives from the COVID-19 pandemic, we will reflect on the therapeutic power of language, and the way in which listening contributes to the complex matrix of things that impacts healing. 

Throughout the semester we will both engage and collaborate with several projects at Penn, including the Penn Medicine Listening Lab, a storytelling initiative that embraces the power of listening as a form of care; Rx/Museum Initiative, a Penn Medicine effort to foster clinician well-being through humanistic pedagogy; and the Health Ecologies Lab, a public programming initiative of Penn Social Policy & Practice and Slought.

English Major Requirements
  • Sector 6 20th & 21st Centuries (AE20)
English Concentration Attributes
  • 20th-21st Century Concentration (AE21)
College Attributes