Editor’s note: This is the first student reflection about a course taught in the Spring of 2018. For more information about the course see the introductory post from this series by the course’s instructor, Dr. Chris Eagle from The Center for the Study of Human Health.

Take Health 385W: Writing Bodies if you are looking to learn about yourself.

This course is unique in the fact that it allows you to explore the inner recesses of your own mind by examining and writing literature. In a pre-professional university, where creativity is often stifled and reading fiction is often replaced with scientific journal articles and heavy textbooks, Dr. Eagle has developed a class that provides a breath of fresh air and a creative outlet for students. Throughout the semester, the theme of embodiment is utilized by many different authors such as Franz Kafka and Flannery O’Connor, and tackled by each student in the class through their own work of fiction. For students who are more scientifically focused and health oriented this class can be a challenge; however, it is inspiring and exciting to see different minds and opinions come together on the topic of health humanities. This class brings into perspective what it means to be human. By examining fictional characters suffering and struggling from a multitude of conditions and contextual situations, one is better able to understand the complexity of the world around us.

A rendering of "The Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka, by Shaarilla90
A rendering of “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka, by Shaarilla90

Many of us taking this course are hoping to follow a career in the sphere of health and healthcare and with this course, we are better able to understand the human condition and emotion behind: illness, disease, disability, pain, and loss. As a student who has little to no background in creative writing, but who loves reading fiction, I found a new passion in this course. Every student, with the guidance of Dr. Eagle and the support of a collaborative and excited classroom was able to produce their own unique and interesting piece of fiction. This creative process is raw and challenging, but incredibly rewarding. The workshopping portion, where we read and provided feedback to one another, was genuinely fun and also an incredibly supportive environment where a small group of students were able to better one another and provide constructive criticism. If any of this sounds like it would be something of interest to you, I highly suggest taking this course and challenging yourself to understand the emotion behind illness, disability, and the body through writing fiction.

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