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Course spotlight: health and illness in film

August 27, 2015

This fall, David Flood, PhD, professor in the Health Administration Department, is teaching Health and Illness in Film. The course, which focuses on how health care is portrayed in films, gives students an opportunity to analyze the portrayal of a variety of health care topics that appear in them.

In addition to covering basic concepts of film analysis, which they will apply to the films covered in class, students will learn to recognize how films try to persuade viewers to perceive health care topics in a certain manner. 

Flood explained the importance of being able to analyze films, “Some of us are health care workers; each of us is a potential patient. In addition, we all are or will be paying to support our country's vast network of health care and so would benefit from being better informed and better equipped to recognize how our views are being shaped.” He also believes that health care workers can benefit from this course because the films will give them a better understanding of how patients see health care professionals. 

Each week a new film will be featured and discussed in class. Some of the films Flood plans on discussing will be Contagion, The Doctor, and Still Alice -- all of which deal with illnesses, diseases and patient care. Contagion focuses on how doctors try to contain a deadly disease and how society reacts when a global pandemic explodes; The Doctor focuses on an emotionally disconnected surgeon who is diagnosed with a deadly tumor and starts to understand the importance of compassion for patients; and Still Alice follows the struggles of a woman who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s and the affect it has on her family.    

The course will be offered quarterly and will alternate between online and classroom formats. Anyone who has completed their freshman English requirements, or equivalent in transfer credits, is eligible to enroll. 

If you are interested in this course, be sure to check out Health care & the Media and Mental Illness in the Media & the Arts, which can both be found under Health Services Administration (HSAD).The Health care & the Media course will focus on the physical aspects of illness, healing, and those involved in care and will touch upon all types of media – television, Internet, film, nooks, newspapers, among others. The Mental Illness in the Media & the Arts course will focus on how mental illness is represented.