Reading and Composition in History: Ancient Medicine and the Pre-Modern Body: Sex, Drugs and Disease

History R1B.004

Spring 2014
TuTh 3-530P
Day & Time: 
202 Wheeler
  • This course satisfies the second half of the Reading and Composition Requirement.
  • This course does not count for credit toward the History Major but may fulfill other requirements.
  • This course examines ancient theories and practices of medicine, that is, how Greeks and Romans understood their own bodies and put that knowledge to use. We will investigate ancient views on pathologies, treatment, nutrition, psychology, sexual health, and psychotropic substances. Considerable attention will be given to how perceptions of the body were socially constructed and reinforced norms within these societies, e.g., gender roles, sexual dynamics, and social hierarchies. The course will also cover the reception of ancient medicine and the ultimate shift towards modern medical practices. Students will leave the course with a general understanding of ancient biological knowledge and medical techniques, as well as a familiarity with the most important authorities on these subjects. 

    This course satisfies the second half of the university’s reading and composition requirement. We will focus on developing the basic skills of a liberal arts education: reading critically and writing persuasively. The course will also serve as an introduction to historical research and will focus on the components of historical thinking: change over time, causality, context, complexity, and contingency. The first half of the class will require students to write brief essays focused on developing these basic skills. These short writing assignments will ask students to analyze one or more of the assigned texts. In the second half of the course, students will write a longer research essay based on texts of their choosing. At the end of the course students will demonstrate their mastery of the various components of historical thinking in a clearly written essay.

    Course Books

    Birth of the Clinic by Foucault, Michel Vintage. ISBN: 978-0679753346 Required
    Cahn, Polishing Your Prose: How to Turn First Drafts Into Finished Work Paperback by Cahn, Stephen, and Victor Cahn Columbia University Press. ISBN: 978-0231160896 Required
    Symposium by Plato Oxford University Press. ISBN: 978-0231160896 Required
    Greek Medicine: From the Heroic to the Hellenistic Age A Source Book by Longrigg, James Routledge. ISBN: 978-0415920872 Required