syllabus6

The New Yorker: Reading and Writing about Health and Medicine
Professor: Josh Roiland
Phone: 314-550-9156
Email: joshua.roiland@gmail.com

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means.”
—Joan Didion


“What the mind doesn’t understand, it worships, or fears.”
—Alice Walker

Required Texts
Diana Hacker, A Pocket Style Manual, 4th Edition,
The New Yorker (online & handouts)

Course Description
To become a better writer it is imperative that you read strong works of writing. Some of the best writing in America is in The New Yorker magazine, which we will use as our textbook. We will read more than 30 articles that appeared in The New Yorker during the last 10 years. These articles examine current issues and debates in the field of health and medicine. Although these articles may complement what you have already learned in your nursing education, or pique your interest into new areas of the health profession, this course is not intended to add to your medical training. This is a writing course whose theme is congruent to your major field of study. We will read, discuss, and write about the content and writing style of these articles. Each week you will complete a reading response based on the articles we read. In addition, you will write two formal papers. I strongly believe in the draft process; therefore, you will complete three distinct drafts of each of these two papers.

Course Objective
This course has a very clear objective: to improve your writing skills. The best way to improve is, simply, to write, which you will do a lot. In order to achieve this goal it is also important to hone your reading skills so that you understand what makes a piece of writing strong, readable, informative, and enjoyable. Identifying how other writers achieve these goals will allow you to model similar strategies and components in your own work. Equally important to achieving our objective is that you commit yourself to the process model of writing; therefore, you will write three distinct drafts of each paper. As you write, I will work with you to help identify what works well and what needs work.

Course Requirements
Daily reading & writing
Group Discussion
Writing Workshop Participation
10 Reading Reflections
2 Essays (3 drafts each)

Evaluation
Paper 1: 5 pgs. — 15%
Paper 2: 10 pgs. — 40%
Reading Reflections — 30%
Class Participation —15%

                              Reading and Writing Schedule

                              Week 1
Monday
Introduction

Wednesday
Joan Didion, “Why I Write”

Friday
NO CLASS

                              Week 2
Monday
George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language”

Wednesday
Michael Schudson, from The Sociology of News

Friday
No Reading
Reading Reflection 1 DUE

                              Week 3
Monday
Jerome Groopman, “What’s the Trouble?”

Wednesday
Atul Gawande, “The Checklist”

Friday
Atul Gawande, “When Good Doctors Go Bad”*

                              Week 4
Monday
Jerome Groopman, “A Model Patient”
Reading Reflection 2 DUE

Wednesday
Atul Gawande, “The Learning Curve”*

Friday
Atul Gawande, “Desperate Measures”*

                              Week 5
Monday
Richard Preston, “An Error in the Code”*
Reading Reflection 3 DUE

Wednesday
Jerome Groopman, “What’s Normal?”*

Friday
Margaret Talbot, “The Bad Mother”

                              Week 6
Monday
No Reading
Paper 1.1 DUE

Wednesday
Katherine Boo, “Swamp Nurse”*

Friday
Michael Specter, “Higher Risk”

                              Week 7
Monday
No Reading
Reading Reflection 4 (in class)
Paper 1.2 DUE

Wednesday
Atul Gawande, “Piecework”

Friday
NO CLASS—LABOR DAY

                              Week 8
Monday
NO CLASS—LABOR DAY

Wednesday
Malcolm Gladwell, “High Prices”
Paper 1.3 DUE

Friday
Malcolm Gladwell, “The Moral-Hazard Myth”

                              Week 9
Monday
Cynthia Zarin, “An Enlarged Heart”
Reading Reflection 5 DUE

Wednesday
Laura Hillenbrand, “A Sudden Illness”*

Friday
Daphne Merkin, “The Black Season”*

                              Week 10
Monday
Jerome Groopman, “Second Opinion”*
Reading Reflection 6 DUE

Wednesday
Alice Trillin, “Betting Your Life”*

Friday
Atul Gawande, “The Bell Curve”

                              Week 11
Monday
Jerome Groopman, “The Right to a Trial”
Reading Reflection 7 DUE

Wednesday
Carl Elliot, “Guinea Pigging”

Friday
No Reading
Paper 2.1 DUE

                              Week 12
Monday
Atul Gawande, “The Itch”
Reading Reflection 8 DUE

Wednesday
Jerome Groopman, “The Colic Connundrum”*

Friday
Atul Gawande, “Cold Comfort”*

                              Week 13
Monday
Jerome Groopman, “Being There”*
Reading Reflection 9 DUE

Wednesday
Jerome Groopman, “The Grief Industry”

Friday
No Reading
Paper 2.2 DUE

                              Week 14
Monday
Atul Gawande, “The Score”

Wednesday
Jerome Groopman, “The Preeclampsia Puzzle”

Friday
Wendy Wasserstein, “Complications”
Reading Reflection 10 DUE

                              Week 15
Monday
Judith Thurman, “The Fast Lane”*

Wednesday
Joan Acocella, “A Few Too Many”

Friday
FINAL PAPER DUE

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