Medicine and the Liberal Arts

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Whether they complete their degrees in the College of Arts and Letters or the College of Science, Notre Dame students are admitted to medical school at a rate that is twice the national average.

Our students are undoubtedly well-trained for the scientific challenges of a medical career, but we believe we can — and should — do more. Informed by our Catholic mission, we believe that the very best medical professionals should be as well trained in empathy, in ethics, and in the social and historical background of medicine as they are in the science.

That is the aim of the Reilly Center's new Medicine and the Liberal Arts program, which will include lectures, conferences, classes, and professionalization opportunities—including summer fellowships, mentorship opportunities, and support for research positions, lab placements, and relevant internships for Arts and Letters pre-health majors.

While the programming is aimed primarily at pre-health students in Arts and Letters, it will be of interest to all students who wish to gain a better understanding of the nature of medicine, through the humanities, fine arts, and social sciences.

Educating the Whole Physician Lecture Series

March 3, 2020 (invited by Lindsey Breitwieser, Gender Studies Program)
4:30pm - 5:30pm
214 DeBartolo Hall
Theorizing Queer Embodiment: On Medical Violence and Intersex Experience
Hil Malatino, Assistant Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Affiliate Faculty in the Department of Philosophy, and Research Associate with the Rock Ethics Institute, Penn State University
Abstract: This talk examines the phenomenon of “queer embodiment”--  experiences of the body that don’t cohere according to cis-centric, sexually dimorphic, repronormative conceptions of somatic normalcy. Focusing in particular on intersex subjects, Malatino examines their encounters with biomedical technologies and medico-scientific understandings of gender pathology, and explores the ways in which the ontology of gender difference developed by the architects of modern sexology is consistently in tension with the embodied experience of intersex, trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming subjects.

April 15, 2020 (invited by Kathleen Eggleson, Indiana University School of Medicine South Bend)
4:30pm - 5:30pm
131 DeBartolo Hall
Materializing Illness: Collaborating Across Art and Bioethics
Devan Stahl, Assistant Professor of Religion at Baylor University
Darian Stahl, American Printmaker and Bookmaker and PhD Humanities student at Concordia University

Abstract: The presenters explore the intersections of biomedicine, narrative, and fine art to shed light on the meaning of illness. Dr. Devan Stahl will narrate her experience of being diagnosed with MS through the use of MRIs and how those images came to shape her understanding of illness. From her perspective as a medical ethicist, chaplain, and patient, these medical imagines cannot capture the lived experience of illness within individual bodies or within the cultural context. Dr. Stahl will place that pathography into typologies commonly used in literature and medical humanities to reveal the types of illness narratives that are frequently underrepresented. The second presenter, Darian Goldin Stahl, MFA, will describe how she uses those same MRIs and other medical ephemera from the scanning process to create prints, installations, and Artists’ books that layer flesh and scans to sensorially nuance the lived experiences of illness. By merging representations of their own bodies, the presenters reconstruct ill-identity in mutuality. Together, the Stahls investigate the significance of this patient-printmaker collaboration, including how it challenges the power-ontology of biomedicine and what possibilities emerge as a result of making space for a multidisciplinary perspective on illness.

April 22, 2020 (invited by Vanesa Miseres, Department of Romance Languages and Literature)
4:30pm - 5:30pm
131 DeBartolo Hall
Charlatans and Medicine in 19th-Century Latin America
Irina Podgorny, Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institute in the History of Science and Permanent Research Fellow at the Argentine National Council of Science (CONICET)
Abstract: The charlatan (or quack) is a historical character defined by his itinerant existence. Traveling from one marketplace to another, dealing in exotic objects and remedies, organizing shows and exhibitions, performing miraculous cures by appealing to the healing power of words and medicaments, charlatans have traversed Europe since medieval times. Far from being confined to certain countries or regions, they were everywhere, repeating almost the same sales strategies, the same words, the same sequence of performances. Podgorny’s lecture will present the network of itinerant characters that circulated antiquities, photographs, remedies, and natural history collections in South America from the 1860s to the 1880s, in order to shed light on the role of traveling conmen, quacks, and charlatans as both agents of the circulation of knowledge and intermediaries between professional and popular medicine.

Check our calendar for other medical-related events on campus
and at the IU School of Medicine - South Bend:


Nick Schneeman

“Having that broad-based liberal arts foundation was a huge advantage. It has let me see medicine and health systems in a way that maybe my colleagues didn’t.” — Dr. Nick Schneeman ’80, physician and co-founder of Genevive (formerly Geriatric Services of Minnesota)


Brianna Aoyama

"My liberal arts education gave me a perspective that influences the way I interact with and treat patients. I was always one of the first in my medical school class to consider all the other non-medical reasons that my patient may be sick.”
— Dr. Brianna Aoyama ’12, Pediatrician, Providence, Rhode Island