Medical Humanities Minor

The WU Minor in Medical Humanities draws on courses from a variety of departments and programs including art history, classics, history, languages and literature, music, philosophy, and gender and sexuality studies. 

The minor approaches health, disease and medical care as culturally embedded human experiences that vary across time and place. In addition to exploring health, disease and medical care as core human experiences, the program of study is designed to provide a solid grounding in the textual-historical approach essential to all humanities scholarship. The minor combines disciplinary diversity with thematic unity to engage students with a set of tightly related “big” topics and issues. These include the contested meanings of health and disease; the ethical dimensions of medicine; illness narratives; debates over health and development; the role of medicine in war, empire and nation building; the relationship between religion and medicine; exchange and friction between biomedicine and other healing traditions; and the burden of disease as it relates to gender, race and class.

Medical Humanities aspires to instill values shared by all humanities disciplines: to appreciate multiple worlds and viewpoints, to communicate clearly and gracefully, and to read and think critically. Students will emerge from the minor able to apply the insights and critical methods of literature, philosophy, history and the arts to subjects often left solely to the natural and social sciences. Its goal is to demonstrate the enduring relevance of humanistic inquiry to understanding a basic realm of human experience.

‘The Monster’s Library’ Student Exhibition Wins National Recognition

‘The Monster’s Library’ Student Exhibition Wins National Recognition

Medical Humanities Advisors & Faculty Advisory Committee


Corinna Treitel
Director of the Medical Humanities Minor
Associate Professor, History

Wendy Love Anderson
Academic Coordinator for the Medical Humanities Minor
Assistant Director of Academic Programs, Center for the Humanities

Faculty Advisory Committee

Chair, Corinna Treitel (History)

Jennifer Arch (English)

Barbara Baumgartner (Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies)

Amy Cislo (Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies)

Robert Feibel (Director, Center for History of Medicine)

Kristina Kleutghen (Art History & Archaeology)

Rebecca Messbarger (Romance Languages & Literature)

Steven Meyer (English)

Patricia Olynyk (Director, Graduate School of Art)

Anya Plutynski (Philosophy)

Christina Ramos (History)

Luis Salas (Classics)


Why Study Medical Humanities?

The history of medicine is embedded in the DNA of contemporary medical science and medical practice, argues Rebecca Messbarger, a cultural historian of early modern medicine and one of the founders of the medical humanities minor at Washington University in St. Louis.

Study Abroad with Medical Humanities

With the advance approval of a minor advisor, Medical Humanities Minors may take one 300- or 400-level course abroad for up to 3 credit hours toward the minor. The Medical Humanities Minor has approved study abroad at:

WU Summer Pre-Med Program in Nice (see program website)
Prerequisites: 3.0 GPA minimum; two years of college level French or the equivalent and enrollment in a French course during the semester prior to departure.

Andean Studies Summer Program in Peru
Prerequisites: 3.0 GPA minimum; completion of Spanish 307 by the start of the program. Previous coursework related to Latin America, development, or health encouraged but not required.

Global MedPrep Program via WU in Shanghai (fall semester; see program website)
Prerequisites: 3.0 GPA minimum; sophomore, junior or senior standing; previous Chinese language study or prior coursework in Asian Studies is recommended. Global MedPrep Scholars applicants must complete an interview process.

Medical Humanities Minors who are interested in a program not on the above list may also meet with their minor advisor and request approval to count a single course from another WU-approved study-abroad program toward the minor. Dr. Anderson is the Study Abroad Advisor for Medical Humanities.


Please contact Dr. Wendy Love Anderson, assistant director of academic programs, Center for the Humanities, with questions about the Medical Humanities minor.