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FMS/ENG 494 Medicine and The Media

Fall 2007

Dr. Paul Privateer


Course Outline


This course meets Track 4 Science and Societal Outcomes and Track 5 Science,

Health and Medicine by exploring the social history of medical and biological knowledge as well as the role contemporary media plays in constructing and shaping public perceptions of medicine, the human body, health and disease. The advent and growth of visual technologies—diffusion magnetic resonance angiography, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, functional MRI, interventional MRI, radiation therapy simulation; current density imaging, magnetic resonance guided focused ultrasound, multinuclear imaging, as well  as video games, the internet, film and television—has relocated much of medical knowledge and productions within the world of visual culture. Consequently media literacy has become a vital skill in understanding the culture of medicine. Moreover, media literacy has also become a significant component in both medical training and public health interventions.


In collaborative student teams, we will explore the historical and ideological foundations of the relationship between medicine, social values and the media, placing particular emphasis on mechanisms by which medical constructs become public knowledge and, hence, social reality.


Students will be asked to analyze current notions of medicine by exploring how those perceptions were ideologically constructed. In particular we will assess how our perceptions of the medical establishment relate to a politics of identity and market capitalism. The strongly dualistic nature of Western culture encourages the polarization of conditions as truth/illusion, self/society, and normality/health that then informs a range of beliefs that control the way we regard various kinds of diseases and the capabilities, forms or corruptions of the individual body.


This seed grant was funded by the IHR.


Paul Michael Privateer


Consortium for Science Policy and Outcomes

Film and Media Studies

Social Science Room 232

480.727-0745 (CSPO)




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