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Literature, Compassion, and Health Care, Stony Brook University.pdf (316.1 kB)

Literature, Compassion, and Health Care, Stony Brook University, SUNY

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posted on 2022-07-06, 16:20 authored by Post Discipline AdminPost Discipline Admin
How does literature help us understand the nature of human illness and suffering? Can written works of art, ancient and contemporary, that depict moments of compassion and compassionate acts lay bare the moral, spiritual, psychological, and physical reality of suffering? There is a long association between literature and medicine, from the viewpoint of physician-writers, such as Anton Chekhov and William Carlos Williams, whose literary skills have eclipsed their medical backgrounds. Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson were the creations of a physician-writer, Arthur Conan Doyle. Physicians portrayed in literature, such as Dr. Bernard Rieux, in Albert Camus’ The Plague, have also explored the relationship between patient and doctor, the nature of healing. This semester-long course will study these relationships through reading of poetry, drama, fiction, memoir, and essay and reflect on the nature of suffering, the intrinsic human need for compassion, and the implications for health and healing. Note that this course forms part of the masters program in Bioethics, rather than the 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

Stony Brook University, SUNY

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)

47774; 69264

Course Title

Literature, Compassion, and Health Care

Terminal Degree of Instructor(s)


Position of Instructor(s)

Professor of Family, Population and Preventive Medicine; Professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology and Pathology; Clinical Assistant Professor

Academic Year(s) Active

unclear, but likely ongoing

Primary Works on Reading List

Albert Camus, The Plague, and works by Anton Chekhov, William Carlos Williams, and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Usage metrics

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