LING-282 Language and Medicine
Fall for 2017-2018
Talk about health surrounds us. We can’t open a newspaper without seeing some reference to the national health care debate, stem cell research, and the effects of second-hand smoke. Reports of bioterrorism and global health scares such as H1N1 flood the airwaves. In visits with our doctors, we talk our way towards diagnoses that help us understand why we haven’t been feeling well and then weigh the pros and cons of different treatment options. My entire life in linguistics has been spent exploring interrelationships between language and a variety of such health issues and contexts, large and small. I’m interested in how the voices of scientists, health care providers, politicians, attorneys, journalists and patients enter into conversations with each other. My passion for understanding the mutual effects between language and human health – how language use affects health as well as how health affects language - has encouraged me to reach across disciplines, both to the scholarly literature and to practitioners.
In this course, we’ll draw on a variety of primary sources in our interdisciplinary examination of health communication in public and in private. We’ll view videotapes of physician-patient visits, analyze transcripts of genetic counseling sessions, read widely within the print media, listen to congressional hearings, examine direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising and public health campaigns, and engage with guest speakers from the National Institutes of Health, Georgetown University Medical Center, Johns Hopkins University, the American College of Medical Genetics, and the Washington Post. This course is designed to appeal especially to students with career aspirations in the following fields: medicine, linguistics, public policy, bioethics, government, and journalism. Specific topics will be selected based on participants’ areas of interest.

Prerequisites: none
Credits: 3

Selected Texts
Ainsworth-Vaughn, Nancy. 1998. Claiming Power in Doctor-Patient Talk. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Capps, Lisa and Ochs, Elinor. 1995. Constructing Panic: The Discourse of Agoraphobia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Gwyn, Richard. 2002. Communicating Health and Illness. London: Sage.
Heritage, John and Maynard, Douglas W. 2006. Communication in Medical Care: Interaction between Primary Care Phsyicians and Patients. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Other readings on Blackboard

Active participation in class discussions
Personal and professional vision essays
Book review
Occasional small assignments
Two group projects with class presentations and papers at mid-term and final
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
More information
Look for this course in the schedule of classes.

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