Teaching


In April 2016, UTSC’s student journal The Underground named me Professor of the Year (Arts, Language, and Literature) based on nominations submitted by my students.
I am profoundly grateful to have the chance to integrate my research interests in Health Humanities into the undergraduate classroom, especially in ways that my students find valuable. If you’re curious about the intersection of the creative arts and humanities with health studies, I hope you’ll consider taking one of my courses. Details follow below.


1. Courses

My undergraduate teaching in the University of Toronto Scarborough’s Health Studies Program includes my brand-new Health Humanities course cluster: Introduction to Health Humanities, The Human-Animal Interface, Aging and the Arts, and Special Topics in Health Humanities. I also teach graduate courses in the University of Toronto’s English Department, including “Aging and Older Age in the 19th-Century Novel” and “Public Health Stories: Writing Illness in Nineteenth-Century Britain.”

Keep scrolling down for some recent course evaluations.

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Introduction to Health Humanities (HLTB50)

This course introduces students to human health as it is represented through literature, narrative, and the visual arts. Students will develop strong critical skills in text-centered methods of analysis (i.e., the written word, visual images) through topics including health and illness narratives, death and dying, patient-professional relationships, technoscience and the human body.

(Click here for a Storify generated by the very first Introduction to Health Humanities course in Fall 2014!)

The Human-Animal Interface     (HLTC50)

This third-year undergraduate course offers an intensive, interdisciplinary study of the human-animal relationship as represented through a range of literature, film, and other critical writings.  Students will explore the theoretical underpinnings of “animality” as a critical lens through which human identity, health, and policy are conceptualized. Key topics include: animals in the human imagination, particularly in relation to health and disability; animal-human mythologies; health, ethics, and the animal.

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Special Topics in Health Humanities (HLTD50)

These advanced undergraduate seminars will provide intensive study of a selected topic in and/or theoretical questions about the health humanities. Topics will vary by instructor and term but may include narrative medicine, stories of illness and healing, representations of older age and aging in literature and film, AIDS and/or cancer writing, representations of death and dying in literature and film, the role of creative arts in health.

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        Aging and the Arts            (HLTD51)

Growing old is not merely a physiological or biological phenomenon. The aging process also occasions complex interactions with history, ideology, and the human imagination. This advanced undergraduate seminar examines older age from a humanistic perspective, with particular focus on 1) its representation in the arts (e.g., literature, film, graphic narratives) and 2) the role of arts-based therapies,and humanistically-informed research initiatives involving older people and/or the aging process.

(Click here for a Storify of this seminar’s anti-ageism Day of Action in Winter 2016!)

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Mental Illness & the Dramatic Monologue (HLTD01 Topic)

An advanced critical investigation of the talking cure as a form of literary (and specifically dramatic) expression, with particular attention to how speech, especially the monologue, has served as a vehicle of expression for emotional pain and distress. In the case of the mentally ill character is it possible to talk too much? What alternatives might exist for the expression of mental illness, when speech becomes a cipher, not a cure, for mental illness? Readings, assignments, and creative work will also explore the possibilities embedded in non-verbal literary forms as a means of expressing and representing mental illness.

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Health Humanities: Pedagogy, Values, Practice

I supervise and collaborate on several undergraduate research projects focused on the teaching and learning of health humanities in the pre-professional context. What unites these studies is their interest in the values, principles, and purposes that underlie and catalyze intersections of arts and health. Projects may be initiated as independent studies, theses, or in-service learning placements. Stay tuned for links to my amazing team of undergrads who are diligently building health humanities at UTSC.

Aging and Older Age in the 19th-Century Novel (ENG4801)

This graduate course focuses on age, and older age especially, as an analytical category of particular significance to the 19th-century British novel. How did British writers employ the imaginative resources of literature to witness “the invention of the elderly subject” (to use Karen Chase’s recent formulation), and how do such representations of older age complicate traditional plots of growth and development—for individuals, societies, and the long literary (after)lives of authors themselves? In addition to its historical focus, this course is intended to serve as a more general introduction to the emergent field of age studies.

Public Health Stories: Illness in 19th-Century Britain (ENG4808)

This graduate course focuses on 19th-century illness writing as both an individual and epidemiological phenomenon, with emphasis on how fictional and non-fictional writing of this period reveals 1) conceptual contiguities between nineteenth-century disease, the body, and the body politic, and 2) the reciprocally illuminating relationship between literature and health. How do our own contemporary interests in illness elucidate, dramatize—or misdiagnose—the aesthetic forms, conceptual problems, and ethical impulses of nineteenth-century illness writing? This course will also appeal to students with interests in health humanities, medical history, and interdisciplinary literary studies.


2. Course Evaluations

Official UTSC student evaluations for my recent undergraduate courses follow below. Formal course evaluations aren’t collected for independent studies or directed reading courses, so if you have questions you can email me or visit during office hours.

Note that all items are scored out of 5 (highest value).

 

HLTB50: Introduction to Health Humanities

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 HLTC50: The Human-Animal Interface

HLTC502015


 HLTD50: Special Topics in Health Humanities 

(Note: topic changes yearly)

HLTD502015


HLTD51: Aging and the Arts