Race and Medicine in America (AMST 256 – 01)

Race and Medicine in America (AMST 256 – 01)

Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut
Fall 2016

Megan H. Glick, Assistant Professor of American Studies

This course will trace ideas of race in American medical science and its cultural contexts, from the late 19th century to the present. We will explore how configurations of racial difference have changed over time and how medical knowledge about the body has both influenced, and helped to shape, social, political, and popular cultural forces. We will interrogate the idea of medical knowledge as a “naturalizing” discourse that produces racial classifications as essential, and biologically based.

We will treat medical sources as primary documents, imagining them as but one interpretation of the meaning of racial difference, alongside alternate sources that will include political tracts, advertisements, photographs, newspaper articles, and so on.

Key concepts explored will include slavery’s medical legacy, theories of racial hierarchy and evolution, the eugenics movement, “race-specific” medications and diseases, public health politics and movements, genetics and modern “roots” projects, immigration and new technologies of identification, and intersections of race and disability.

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