Master Scholars Program in Humanistic Medicine Seminars
NYU School of Medicine’s Master Scholars Program in Humanistic Medicine offers interdisciplinary seminars that explore the intersections of medicine with the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Moderated by expert faculty, these interprofessional, paracurricular (noncredit) seminars are open to all students, faculty, and staff in the NYU community who are interested in these creative and intellectual pursuits.
This sampling of seminars that have been offered in the past provides a good idea of what participants can expect to experience in the program.
Art and Anatomy
On Tuesday evenings, the anatomy lab at NYU School of Medicine is transformed into an art studio. Medical students and members of NYU Langone faculty and staff gather in a spirit of creative enterprise with a goal of turning anatomy into art. Everyone is welcome, including beginners with no previous drawing experience.
The seminar, created and led by artist-in-residence Laura Ferguson, enhances participants’ three-dimensional, spatial understanding of the inner body. Learning anatomy in a more artistic mode allows students to become better observers and to focus on the individuality of each anatomical structure.
Art created by participants is exhibited in the art gallery at NYU Langone. Watch a video about the seminar and view selected works and photographs from a recent opening reception.
The Art of Seeing
This highly interactive seminar strengthens participants’ observational skills and self-awareness through an analysis of formal elements in art. By combining discussions about art with exercises in art making, writing, and observation, the course allows students to consider the relevance of points of view, bias, and ambiguity to diagnosis and patient communication. The seminar is facilitated by Anna Willieme.
Literature and Addiction
This seminar examines the disease of addiction through the lens of literature. Substance use disorders affect millions of Americans and have long captured the fascination of the public and scholars alike. Through careful analysis and close readings of short stories, personal essays, and excerpts from novels and memoirs, participants explore the insights literature offers into the many dimensions of addiction.
Music and Medicine
This seminar explores how disease and disability affect the composition and performance of music and how music can affect people living with disease. How did Beethoven’s deafness influence his late period, particularly the five late quartets? How has blindness influenced the music of Stevie Wonder? What are the interconnections between music and mental illness, music and substance abuse, and music as medicine—as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, for example?
The sessions combine material about musicians’ lives with an analysis of contemporary songs or classical works. An ability to read music is helpful but not required. The seminar is led by facilitator Michael Tanner, MD.
Storytelling in Medicine
The practice of medicine demands storytelling. Sociologist Arthur Frank has described illness as “a call for stories,” an event that begets narration and revision over time. But rarely in medicine is the role of narrative acknowledged, and caregivers have little time to reflect on their patients’—or their own—stories.
Sessions are facilitated by renowned physician–writers, such as David Oshinsky, PhD; Perri Klass, MD; Barron Lerner, MD, PhD; Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD; Ivan Oransky, MD; and Stephen Bergman, MD, DPhil . Participants examine various genres of writing related to medicine and articulate and interpret stories of the human condition.
Writing from the Inside Out
Writing has a distinct purpose in the medical humanities. In this seminar, writing involves reflection—sorting out new awarenesses, ideas, and feelings—as a path toward clarity. Through exercises in poetry, memoir, fiction, and nonfiction, the course focuses on structured writing that has a beginning, middle, and end but is constantly changing as the writer’s awareness of the subject changes. The class includes writing, reading, and discussion, with the goal of producing a publishable piece of writing. The seminar is led by facilitator Madeleine Beckman.