Modular Courses

These courses are divided into multiple modules, each taught by either Rice faculty members, external curators, and/or members of the Texas Medical Center. Inviting specialists, such as curators or clinicians, to co-teach these courses creates tangible situations of reciprocity between the campus and the city, making it possible for leaders in the arts, culture, and medicine to connect their respective practices with current scholarship and have a hand in shaping future generations of practitioners and/or scholars.

Fall 2017-Spring 2018

HURC 201 - Introduction to the Medical Humanities [Offered twice/year]
Instructor(s):
Kirsten Ostherr, Professor of English
This core course in the Medical Humanities minor examines the history of medicine, concepts of disease vs illness, narrative medicine, health disparities, religion, spirituality, and the role of science and technology on the practices of healthcare. Students develop skills in close reading, interpretation, historical contextualization, critical thinking.

ENGL 397 - Literature & Culture: Capturing Music, A Cultural Writing Clinic [Fall 2017]
Instructor(s):
Sydney Boyd
When singer-songwriter Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016, it marked a cultural and controversial shift in how we understand music in relationship to writing. Putting Dylan in the same company as George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, and Toni Morrison, the prize called attention to a long-standing interdisciplinary bond between music and literature that detractors hailed irrelevant and supporters called intuitive. This course will investigate classical music, writing, and culture with a hands-on approach. In addition to considering what music has to do with literature and vice versa through critical readings, we will ask cultural questions about the role of music in Houston and beyond: Why do we go to concerts? And how do we write about that experience? To answer these questions, our class will attend a variety of classical and contemporary concerts over the course of the semester that reflect Houston’s diverse population from opera to solo recitals, chamber music, and Hindustani tabla concerts. Additionally, in this class we will practice a variety of ways to write about music from liner notes to reviews, creative responses, presentations, and one final critical essay.

Politics of Cultural Heritage in the Modern Middle East, 1800 to the Present [Spring 2018]
Instructor(s):
Ümit Açıkgöz
This course will examine the history of the concept of “cultural heritage” in the Middle East from its inception in the nineteenth century until the present, particularly in its relation to politics and questions of identity. We will explore the emergence of concerns for archaeological sites and architectural monuments; the uses and meanings of cultural heritage at different historical moments; and the ability of cultural heritage to shore up contested claims of identity, ideology, and political legitimacy in imperial, colonial, and national contexts. Focus will be on the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Israel.

A Brief History of Madness [Spring 2018]
Instructor(s):
Benjamin Kozicki
There is no end to our cultural fascination with mental illness, and our ideas on the subject shift constantly, if only because it is one that has historically been plagued by misunderstanding. Indeed, as we are not that far removed from a time where the mentally ill were thought to be witches or possessed by demons, and even a half-century ago the standard treatment for even the most benign maladies called for institutionalization and regimens of treatment that hearkened back to the dark ages. And while the understanding of mental illness has increased dramatically since the deinstitutionalization movement of the latter half of the 20th century, mental illness remains severely misunderstood to this day – to the extent that portrayals of the mentally ill in popular media are often just as inaccurate and stigmatizing as the witch stories of centuries past. The purpose of this course is to examine the portrayals, understanding, and diagnoses of mental illness covering roughly the past 200 years: from the surprising barbarism of the early 19th century, and the outright quackery of the Victorian Era, to the discovery of the unconscious, on up to the era of deinstitutionalization and advent of Prozac.

Fall 2016-Spring 2017

ANTH 477: Disability Inside Out: Sexuality, Politics, Identity [Spring 2017]
Instructor(s): Zoë Wool
Education about disability often occurs within a medical framework governed by logics of pathology and impairment. This course contextualizes and contests this framework by exploring disability from the inside out, through the experiences and work of artists, activists, and scholars with disabilities. This course will bring to Rice leading local and national figures in disability culture, scholarship, and care, offering students the unique opportunity to learn about disability 'from the inside out'.

Fall 2015-Spring 2016

HURC 409/HURC 609 - Advanced Study in Museums and Heritage: Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean at the Menil Collection [Spring 2016]
Instructor(s): John Hopkins, Assistant Professor of Art History and Classical Studies
The course will introduce students to issues specific to the acquisition, collection maintenance, display and publication of arts from the ancient Mediterranean, perhaps the most legally and ethically complex area of museological practice, and to the civic engagement and operation of a small, important collection, specifically the Menil Collection. Additionally, students will engage in directed research on artifacts using archival records, library resources and the objects themselves.
Invited Speakers: Susan Langdon, Professor and Chair, Department of Art History, University of Missouri; Phoebe Segal, Assistant Curator at MFA Boston; David Aylsworth, Houston-Based Artist; Paul Davis, Curator of Collections at The Menil Collection; Sarah Costello, Assistant Professor of Art History, University of Houston Clear Lake; Kari Dodson; Consuelo Gutierrez, Object of Fashion.

HURC 307 - Critical Humanities of Health and the Body [Spring 2016]
Instructor(s): Melissa Bailar, Professor in the Practice of Humanities
This course comprises six modules co-taught by faculty and medical professionals. Modules will address DNA and genetics, changes in medical education, the pathologization of difference, the process of dying, disability and ability, the doctor-patient relationship, and more.
Invited Speakers: Philip Montgomery, Head of the John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center at the Texas Medical Center Library; Bryant Boutwell, John P. McGovern Professor in Oslerian Medicine at UT Health Medical School; Alanna Beroiza, Doctoral Candidate in Rice University’s Department of English; Jonathan Metzl, Frederick B. Rentschler II Professor of Sociology, Director of the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society, Professor of Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University; Renata Domatti, Director of Case Management at Cornerstone Hospital of Austin; Eric Treadway, Houston activist in AIDS awareness and researcher on needle-exchange programs; Judith Roof, William Shakespeare Chair in English and Professor of English at Rice University; John Mulligan, Lecturer, Rice HRC.