Cancer Cultures: The Social Lives of a Disease
Instructor: Dr. Coleman Nye, Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:30–4:20 pm / FASS 101 D007
Cancer is everywhere. Whether we’re reading about Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy in a celebrity gossip magazine or learning about chemotherapy’s origins as a weapon of war in a TED Talk, stories about cancer crop up in all kinds of unexpected places.
While 1 in 2 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes, many of us learn much about the disease in our daily lives through non-medical sources. We walk and run for the cure, buy pink ribbon products for the cause, cry in films like The Fault in Our Stars, laugh through comics like Cancer Vixen, anxiously await 23andMe DNA test results, or grimace at the warning labels on cigarette packs.
This course will explore the diverse meanings of cancer in local and global contexts through films, comics, and memoirs, as well as in social and historical studies of medicine, science, and technology. In all of these examples, we will ask not only what cancer can tell us about our culture, but also what culture can tell us about medical approaches to cancer research and treatment.