Medical Anthropology

Course Info

Course Number/Code: 21A.215 (Fall 2004)
Course Title: Medical Anthropology
Course Level: Undergraduate
Offered By: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Department: Anthropology
Course Instructor(s): Prof. Jean Jackson
Course Introduction:
Syllabus Description

This course looks at medicine from a cross-cultural perspective, focusing on the human, as opposed to biological, side of things. Students learn how to analyze various kinds of medical practice as cultural systems. Particular emphasis is placed on Western (bio-) medicine; students examine how biomedicine constructs disease, health, body, and mind, and how it articulates with other institutions, national and international.


In addition to doing all of the reading (approximately 100 pages a week), you will write a response to one of the readings each week. This can be a short paragraph, and informally written. It should be an actual response to the piece - your own reaction to it, rather than a summary or analysis. You will also write three short (6+ pages) papers on topics assigned during the semester. There is no midterm or final exam.

In addition to the formal papers you're writing, you will write a very brief Reader Response every week on one of the readings for that week. These can be handed in on Monday or Wednesday. These are short (one paragraph, more if you choose) pieces describing your reaction to one of the readings. These are not graded, but they are required.

I accept no written work handed in late without having given permission at least 24 hours prior to the date the work is due.

This course has a strong discussion component. You must come to class prepared to discuss the reading assigned for that class. Attendance is required. Do not take this course if you plan on cutting classes - you will receive a failing grade.

Grading will be based as follows:

Course grading.activitiespercentagesParticipation in Class Discussion15%Reading Response Write-ups (collectively)10%Each Paper25%Students will present a five-minute summary of their third written assignment in class at the end of the course. These will not be graded.

The readings required for each session are found directly under the title for that day's class.

Warning: Plagiarism

Plagiarism, presenting someone else's work as your own, comes in two forms, both extremely serious. The first involves using the words of a source, exactly or in very close paraphrase, without proper citation. If you are citing word-for-word, it does not suffice to footnote the source you must use quotation marks. If you are paraphrasing someone's work, you must fully cite the work, including the exact page number of the page on which the material appears. Do not think that just because work is "in the public domain," on the Net, etc., you do not need to provide a full citation. If it's someone else's work, then it's not your work and you need to fully cite the source.

The second form of plagiarism involves taking ideas from a source without footnoting the source.

Although sanctions for plagiarism in this course depend on its severity, failing the course is a distinct possibility. I have failed students in the past, and they have also had to appear before the Committee on Discipline. Bottom line: this course takes plagiarism very seriously. Suspicious papers immediately get sent to a computer-savvy colleague.

If you have questions, see me. The readings for the course provide good examples of proper citation practice.