For best experience please turn on javascript and use a modern browser!
You are using a browser that is no longer supported by Microsoft. Please upgrade your browser. The site may not present itself correctly if you continue browsing.

Health and illness transcend the limits of our bodies: they are social, cultural and political realities, too. Living with an illness, for instance, often comes with the social restrictions of ‘the sick role’ or even stigmatization, whereas calls to ‘get fit’ can be understood as a form of biopolitics. Additionally, health and well-being, or lack of it, are construed through culturally or semiotically productive practices: they generate and disseminate images, narratives and connotations, they project notions of citizenship and personhood, and they imply oppositions – instable as they may be – between normal and deviant, legal and illegal, natural and unnatural. In this course, we will analyze and critique (personal and public) ‘ways of speaking’ about health and illness in order to fully understand how health and illness operate as social, cultural and political (re)constructions.

In class, we discuss selected readings from a variety of relevant disciplines – humanities, medical sociology, philosophy of psychiatry, etc. Additionally, we assess different methods, concepts and tools to analyze cultures of health and illness, such as narrativity, discourse, performativity and ideology. We also reflect on how healthy and ill subjectivities are construed along identity axes as gender, class, race and validity, and to what extent individuals can ‘talk back’ at official languages of health and illness. Finally, we explore (through in-class group work) a selection of cultural objects, ranging from literary texts and self-help books to television performances and social media.


All lectures will take place on-campus and we assume you can be physically present during the scheduled hours. You can find the timetable on Datanose.


Registration is possible for second or higher year students participating in an Honours programme. The registration for the Honours courses will start on December 1, 10 am -  December 5, 11 pm, You can register through the online registration form that will appear on Honoursmodules IIS(registration is NOT through SIS or GLASS).

Please note: There is no guarantee for placement if you register after 5 December, so make sure you register on time. You will hear which course(s) you are registered for before 20 december. For questions about registration, please contact us at

More information

Facts & Figures
Honours programme
Language of instruction
Starts in