BIOL 6517: Diseases, Doctors, and Divas: Opera and Medicine

Student Leaders: 
Susie Ahn, MD17; Hyunwoo June Choo, MD17
Faculty Adviser: 
Dr. Michelle Daniel

For over four centuries, opera with its extravagance and melodrama has acutely captured our evolving understanding of disease processes from tuberculosis in Puccini’s La Bohème to HIV/AIDS in Larson’s rock opera Rent. While opera serves to prepare audiences emotionally for their own inevitable demise through staging poignant stories of human disease and mortality, it has also instilled ongoing stereotypes and stigma with which we label both patients and their doctors. In this unique interdisciplinary course, faculty from the medical, music, and foreign language departments will facilitate active discussion of topics ranging from “Tuberculosis and the Opera Heroine” to 'Orthopedic Disorders in Opera' to 'Wozzeck: A Study in Medical Ethics.' Drawing upon live performances, video clips, scientific and literary articles, this course will provide students with an overview of the historical and contemporaneous understandings of diseases and the role of the physicians who treat them.