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Bioethics and Film, University of Pennsylvania (Perelman)

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posted on 2022-07-06, 16:21 authored by Post Discipline AdminPost Discipline Admin
In reality and metaphorically, cinema has served for generations of moviegoers as a site of communal congregation, pedogogical dissemination, and sometimes disease infection. Accordingly, how and where we watch films are just as important as what films have to say about doctors, disease, and death. This course will consider the epidemiological and cultural implications of cinema on bioethics, including how movies and movie theaters themselves have functioned as spaces of contentious discourse regarding public health. Bearing in mind the recent scholarship of film and medical theorists such as Lisa Cartwright, Paula Triechler, and David Serlin, we will study not only the possibility for film to register and comment on cultural understandings of the clinic, but also the ways cinema itself works out, reimagines, and even changes how the clinic is put into practice. Focusing on themes such as quarantine, vaccination, sexual health, end of life care, professional competence, and globalization, we will be watching and discussing public health films and feature-length films by directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, David Croneberg, Tamara Jenkins, and Todd Haynes. No background in either cinema studies or bioethics is required for this course. UPenn does not currently offer any FOR-CREDIT courses that rely on narratives for teaching. In other words, courses that are firmly in the arts and humanities are all electives, NON-credit. This course is credit-bearing, but contributes to the fulfilment of the Master of Bioethics (MBE) Program, rather than a professional Medicine (MD) Program. This information has been collected for the Post-Discipline Online Syllabus Database. The database explores the use of literature by schools of professional education in North America. It forms part of a larger project titled Post-Discipline: Literature, Professionalism, and the Crisis of the Humanities, led by Dr Merve Emre with the assistance of Dr Hayley G. Toth. You can find more information about the project at Data was collected and accurate in 2021/22.


Subject Area


Geographic Region

Middle Atlantic

University or College

University of Pennsylvania (Perelman)

Funding Status


Endowment (according to NACUBO's U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change* in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20) ($1,000)


Annual Tuition and Mandatory Fees 2021-2022 ($) (Resident; Non-resident, where applicable)


Course Title

Bioethics and Film

Terminal Degree of Instructor(s)

PhD English

Position of Instructor(s)

Associate Director of the Master of Bioethics Program

Academic Year(s) Active

2014/15, 2018/19, 2019/20, 2021/22

Primary Works on Reading List

Films by directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, David Croneberg, Tamara Jenkins, and Todd Haynes.

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