• Class Number 6925
  • Term Code 3360
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery Online
    • AsPr Louise Stone
    • AsPr Louise Stone
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 24/07/2023
  • Class End Date 27/10/2023
  • Census Date 31/08/2023
  • Last Date to Enrol 31/07/2023
SELT Survey Results

This course introduces students to the field of medical humanities, highlighting the complex and important relationship between medicine, literature and popular culture. It focuses on the representation of medicine in both literary and televisual texts and is divided into modules based on four different kinds of  medical representation:

1) Medical autobiography and reflective accounts of medical practice by doctors and other professionals

2) Pathography (personal accounts of illness)

3) Medical television drama

4) Medical reality television

These four modules will be linked through 6 key themes explored throughout the course:

Representations of the ideal medical professional (and challenges to this idealised identity)

Representations of the ideal patient (and challenges to this idealised identity)

The idea of medicine as performance  

The cultural construction of medical practice

The relationship between narrative and illness

The relationship between drama and medicine

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Critically and reflectively analyse written and visual texts.
  2. Demonstrate awareness of the cultural discourses and themes which structure representations of medicine.
  3. Demonstrate awareness of the relationship between narrative, illness and medicine.
  4. Synthesise and reflect on idealised representations of medicine and medical professionals, and the impact of these on popular understandings of health, disease and medical practice.

Required Resources

There is no mandatory text. The following useful books (located in three different ANU libraries) are recommended as they form part of the core reading material


Hurwitz B, Greenhalgh T, Skultans V. (eds) Narrative research in health and illness Mass. : BMJ Books, 2004 R727 .N27 2004 HANCOCK 2 day reserve

Kidder T. Mountains Beyond Mountains. New York : Random House, 2003 R154.F36 K53 2003 HANCOCK 2 day reserve

Farmer P. Pathologies of Power: health, human rights and the new war on the poor. Berkeley : University of California Press, c2003 HM821 .F37 2003 CHIFLEY.

William Carlos Williams. Making Light of It. PS3545.I544A6 1966 CHIFLEY

William Carlos Williams. Autobiography. PS3545.I544Z52 1967a CHIFLEY

Gawande, Atul. Complications: A surgeon’s notes on an uncertain science. RD27.35.G39 A3 2002 HANCOCK.

Carmichael Ann G, Ratzan RM (eds) Medicine in literature and art Köln : Könemann, 1991 610.9 MED ART LIBRARY

Metcalf, Tim. Verbal Medicine Charnwood: Gininderra Press R702.V37 2006 HANCOCK Reserve 2 hr

Your local public library will also provide a good source of popular pathographies and accounts of medical practice

Recommended student system requirements 

ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities including:

  • video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
  • two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
  • email and other messaging tools for communication
  • interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
  • print and photo/scan for handwritten work
  • home-based assessment.

To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:

  • A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate.
  • Webcam
  • Speakers and a microphone (e.g. headset)
  • Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate.
  • Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
  • Printing, and photo/scanning equipment

For more information please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). Feedback can also be provided to Course Conveners and teachers via the Student Experience of Learning & Teaching (SELT) feedback program. SELT surveys are confidential and also provide the Colleges and ANU Executive with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Course Overview. Studying Text and Narrative
2 Module 1: Medical autobiography and reflective accounts of medical practiceLiving Life Large: global health practitioners
3 Working in hospitals: nurses and doctors
4 Module 2: Accounts of illness and treatmentAccounts of illness
5 Accounts of treatment
6 Visual accounts of illness (student presentations) Assignment 1: Student presentations during tutorial, week 6
7 Module 3: Interval: new media + tools for analysingA: Graphic novels B: Tools for rapid media analysis Assignment 2: Essay submission 18 September, 2023
8 Module 4: Medical television dramaExemplary tales and maturation dramas
9 Reality television, new narratives and public health
10 Module 5: Talking medicineCommunication between doctors and patients: the internal language
11 A: Student presentations (Assignment 2) B: Interactive gaming and representations of medicine
12 Alternative and complementary medicine: domestic and sacralised narratives Assignment 3 due October 24, 2023

Tutorial Registration

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Presentation of visual material 7 % 28/08/2023 11/09/2023 2,3
Minor Assessment (Essay) 30 % 18/09/2023 01/10/2023 1, 2, 3, 4
Major assessment (Presentation and Essay) 55 % 24/10/2023 07/11/2023 1, 2, 3, 4
Class participation 8 % * * 1, 2, 3, 4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines , which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Integrity Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Skills website. In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


No examination

Assessment Task 1

Value: 7 %
Due Date: 28/08/2023
Return of Assessment: 11/09/2023
Learning Outcomes: 2,3

Presentation of visual material

Presentation of visual material (7%)

This seminar addresses visual representations of illness or treatment. You may choose a piece of high or popular art, including photography.

Choose an image that you would like to discuss. (Discuss beforehand with me so that we don’t have double-ups).

In your ten minute presentation, discuss:

  •  The history of the image itself
  •  Its content, and the context in which it was produced. If the image you are discussing is produced for a specific purpose (eg memorialising the dead, as in the case of the AIDS quilts, or honouring the living, as with the SCAR project) then discuss this as well.
  •  Key visual elements in the picture. Depending on the image, style, perspective, use of light and shadow, iconography may all be relevant.

Marking criteria: Seminar presentation on visual representations


Ability toUnsatisfactorySatisfactoryExcellent

Critically interpret visual representations

Does not

incorporate both history, context and content of the image.

Superficial analysis of visual elements

Able to integrate at

least two of history, context and content of image.

Able to describe at least key three elements of the image

Integrates history,

context and content of image.

Insightful, integrated analysis of visual elements of the image


ideals orally


exceeds or is short of the allocated length.  Discussion poorly focused.

Clear communication

of key ideas about

visual material. Does not use excessive

technical language, but is able to use

some technical terms if warranted.


communication of key ideas about visual material. Uses appropriate language to convey complex ideas. Can respond to questions.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 18/09/2023
Return of Assessment: 01/10/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4

Minor Assessment (Essay)

Minor Assessment (Essay) (30%)

Students must complete one of two reflective tasks, in which they will practise the skills of identifying and clarifying the purposes of different narratives in representing health workers and illness. Students undertaking the second option should discuss their choice of pathography with the lecturer, as each student must undertake a different pathography.


  •  To demonstrate ability to interpret or construct narrative representations of medical practice and illness
  •  To identify and explain cultural notions of good medical practice or responses to illness through an analysis of texts

TASK 2A: This task will suit those who wish to provide a creative response to the material.

Write a piece about 1500 words long in which you use two contrasting modes to describe a health worker’s activities (for example: heroic, ironic, anti-heroic, realist, allegorical).  You may draw on a real experience of an encounter with a health worker, or you may invent one. In 500 words then write an exegesis in which you demonstrate how the modes of representation can be used to form different notions of “good” medical practice.


TASK 2B: This task will suit those who wish to write a more formal academic reflection on a text.

Choose a pathography. Write a 2000 word reflection on a pathography in which you describe the illness narrative, the audience, the style of writing, and the purpose of the illness narrative. In your reflection, consider the extent to which the pathography constructs an “ideal” mode of being ill, and critically review the application of Frank’s typology of illness narratives to the pathography.


Ability toUnsatisfactorySatisfactoryExcellent

critically interpret narrative representations

Does not differentiate the modes of representation of

health workers

Analysis of one mode of representing health workers and rudimentary analysis of the other mode

Clearly analyses      two different modes of representing

health workers

explore a text as a way of understanding cultural meaning

Asserts but does not illustrate how the text helps us understand the cultural construction of the ideal mode of being a health


Superficial description of cultural construction

of the ideal mode of being a health worker with limited support from other academic literature

Identifies and explains the cultural construction of the ideal mode of being a health worker which may be gleaned from the narrative, appropriately supported by at least two other academic sources

write clearly and succinctly

Writes with little fluency, with many mistakes in

grammar or syntax. Essay is too long or short

Writes with a degree of fluency, with minor syntax and/or grammatical mistakes

Writes fluently and clearly with few syntax and grammatical


Assessment Task 3

Value: 55 %
Due Date: 24/10/2023
Return of Assessment: 07/11/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4

Major assessment (Presentation and Essay)

Major assessment (Presentation and Essay) (55%)

Students must complete one of tasks 3A or 3B., demonstrating the relevance of textual/narrative analysis to contemporary medical practice, or illness experience. Identify how you are going to undertake this task early, as it will require some preparation. 15% of your mark for this assignment will come from your presentation of your work. You may choose to reduce the length of Task 3A or 3B by also completing Task 3C.


  • To practise analysing and comparing texts and how they are represented
  • To demonstrate understanding of the implications of textual or graphical representation of health, illness and/or medical practice

TASK 3A: This task will suit those who wish to practise the skills of preparing a report on popular representations of a selected issue in medical care and practice, and communicating this information to a non-specialist audience. These skills are of relevance for professions as diverse as public health, advertising and politics.

For this assignment we will focus on contemporary popular representations of one aspect of medical care or practice. You will reflect on a range of texts on the same key topic, and consider the differences or similarities in their representation. Consider the audience for whom these texts are developed, and the types of narratives that are being constructed. Consider the implications for health policy.


The report will comprise:

(a)         Some background data about the selected aspect of medical care of practice you are studying. For example, you may choose to present some statistics about how common the procedure/illness is or how costly it is.[1]

(b)       A discussion of how you studied the popular representations of the selected aspect of medical care or practice. For example, if you are studying media representations of the selected aspect of medical care or practice you may need to search online newsprint databases. If you are studying representations on TV news, you may need to examine the news over a specified period of time and keep descriptive notes of the representation. If you are studying representations in popular magazines, state the timing over which they did this and keep notes.

(c)        Your analysis of the data. Provide illustrations from the data to demonstrate your points. Consider the limitations of your data sources.

(d)       The implications for health policy makers. Consider if the representations overall have a positive or negative impact on health or health care. If negative, briefly suggest some ways to counter the negative impact. If positive, briefly consider why this is, and ways to capitalise on it.

[1] Good sources to study this are in the Medicare Benefits Schedule http://www.medicareaustralia.gov.au/provider/medicare/mbs.jsp#N10030 or the Australian Institute for

Health and Welfare publications http://www.aihw.gov.au/publications/index.cfm/title/12271 or the Hospital Morbidity database http://www.aihw.gov.au/hospitals/datacubes/datasource.cfm 


TASK 3B: This essay will suit those who wish to focus on more theoretical aspects of representation of texts. Please discuss with your lecturer beforehand the texts you would like to analyse.   

Using a dramaturgical or narrative perspective, critically analyse two texts addressing a medical issue, or a mode of practice. You may include books, a series of newspaper articles or television programs (or any other form of text) in answering this question. Identify why you chose these texts. Do they exemplify something particular about a topic? What is the cultural, social and/or historical context in which these representations emerged? Compare and contrast the modes of representation of the medical issue and consider the implications, if any, for contemporary policy-making or practice.



This task is a continuation of the exercise undertaken in Session 10 on devising a graphic representation of a complex health communication message. This task requires you to produce, and providing an exegesis on, a graphic representation of a complex health communication message. It will suit those aiming to produce a portfolio of work from their Masters program that will demonstrate they are work-ready; and those who are keen to explore graphic representation.

Your task is to devise a graphic representation of a complex health communication that can be used either in health promotion or in clinical health communication. Examples are:

  •  Initiation of hepatitis B medication
  •  Recognition of flare-ups and response in rheumatoid arthritis
  •  Treatment of hepatitis C
  •  The repeat system used to access medications in Australia

**Please discuss the health communication area you wish to address with me, so that the key principles to be addressed can be clarified for any health message.

Produce a graphic representation of the message, including (if relevant) story boards. The image does not need to be polished and professional. In 1000-1500 words provide a

rationale for your work including:

(a)          the intended audience

(b)         the reason for the graphic representation/style/visual metaphors you have chosen

(c)          alternatives that currently exist to address this topic (d) how you see this being used


Ability toUnsatisfactorySatisfactoryExcellent

identify an issue

Does not provide sufficient backgound data to demonstrate the relevance or importance of the

medical phenomenon;

Provides relevant background data to enable the reader to gauge the importance or relevance of the medical


Provides detailed and sophisticated      

analysis on relevance or relevance of the medical phenomenon;

critically analyse popular representation of medicine

Poorly analysed, with irrelevant, excessive or no in-text examples

Provides clear

analysis of data, with some overstating or under-analysis. Some in-text examples; or


relevance is  linked


sophisticated analysis of the data, with relevant in- text examples

demonstrate the contemporary relevance of an analysis of popular representations of medicine

Asserts but does not demonstrate the contemporary relevance of this analysis for practical purposes


relevance is  linked to the analysis of the texts. Some implications for policy makers/other non-specialist readers are outlined

Contemporary relevance is linked to sophisticated and persuasive analysis of the texts. Implications for policy makers are considered, and some

recommendations are made.

write clearly and succinctly

Writes with little fluency, with many mistakes in grammar or syntax. Report is too long or too short.


Format is incorrect, or contains multiple errors. Executive

summary is

insufficient, or too long. Division into sections is non- intuitive.

Writes with a degree of fluency, with minor syntax and/or grammatical mistakes.


Format is appropriate for a report (includes executive summary, and sensible division into sections). Some mistakes in formatting, and may not be easily interpreted by lay reader

Writes fluently and   clearly with few syntax and grammatical mistakes.


Higher level                    

preparation of report, with very few mistakes in formatting.

Messages are lucid for non-specialist reader


ideals orally

Significantly exceeds or is short of the allocated length. Discussion poorly focused

Clear communication of key ideas. Does not use excessive

technical language, but is able to use

some technical terms if warranted


communication of key ideas. Uses appropriate language to convey complex ideas. Can respond to questions

Assessment Task 4

Value: 8 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4

Class participation

Class participation (8%)

During weekly seminars and in the online discussion forums, students are expected to contribute to the learning of others.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. The University’s students are an integral part of that community. The academic integrity principle commits all students to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support, academic integrity, and to uphold this commitment by behaving honestly, responsibly and ethically, and with respect and fairness, in scholarly practice.

The University expects all staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle, the Academic Integrity Rule 2021, the Policy: Student Academic Integrity and Procedure: Student Academic Integrity, and to uphold high standards of academic integrity to ensure the quality and value of our qualifications.

The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 is a legal document that the University uses to promote academic integrity, and manage breaches of the academic integrity principle. The Policy and Procedure support the Rule by outlining overarching principles, responsibilities and processes. The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 commences on 1 December 2021 and applies to courses commencing on or after that date, as well as to research conduct occurring on or after that date. Prior to this, the Academic Misconduct Rule 2015 applies.


The University commits to assisting all students to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. All coursework students must complete the online Academic Integrity Module (Epigeum), and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students are required to complete research integrity training. The Academic Integrity website provides information about services available to assist students with their assignments, examinations and other learning activities, as well as understanding and upholding academic integrity.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

The Academic Skills website has information to assist you with your writing and assessments. The website includes information about Academic Integrity including referencing requirements for different disciplines. There is also information on Plagiarism and different ways to use source material.

Returning Assignments

Assignments will be returned through Wattle.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments


Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

AsPr Louise Stone

Research Interests

Primary care, Health services, Mental health, Sexual safety in the medical workplace

AsPr Louise Stone

Monday By Appointment
Wednesday By Appointment
Friday By Appointment
AsPr Louise Stone

Research Interests

AsPr Louise Stone

Monday By Appointment
Wednesday By Appointment
Friday By Appointment

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