End of Spring 2019 Semester (April 24 – May 10)

by Prof. Hangen - April 24th, 2019

Here is the rundown of modified deadlines and dates for the remainder of the semester, the all-online portion of the class.

Friday, April 26: Response #4 is due by 11:59 pm. The journals close (i.e. will be unavailable) after that. The prompt for Response #4 is in the back of the syllabus.

Monday, April 29: Post your Health Ad video project to Blackboard Discussion Board (Course Dialogue) in a post by 11:59 pm.

Monday, April 29: Honors students, finish your work on the Glossary by 11:59 pm.

Tuesday, April 30, Midnight: Glossary (Google doc) opens up for the entire class to view and study from.

Wednesday, May 1: Vote for your three top video choices by 11:59 pm. Use the link on Blackboard Unit 3 to a Google form. I will then list the 16 vote-getters in an elimination bracket which will be run on Blackboard between May 3 and May 7.

Friday, May 3: Vote for your favorites in each of the 8 contests (16 –> 8)
Submit your Policy Ad reflection paper to Blackboard Unit 3 by 11:59 pm.

Over the weekend May 4-5: Vote for your top favorites in each of the 4 semi-final contests (8 –> 4).

Monday, May 6: Vote for your favorites in the final round (4 –> 2) Submit your two exam questions on Blackboard Unit 3, using a Google Form, by 2:00 pm.

Tuesday, May 7: Vote for your #1 champion ad. Honors students finalize their version of the exam.

Thursday, May 9: Final exam (take-home online final) is released on Blackboard. You have 48 hours to take it, due Friday May 10 at 11:59 pm. “Force completion” will be turned off, so you can work on it until you’re ready to submit.

Thanks, everyone, for your hard work and making this class a successful learning experience for yourselves, each other, and for me! Have a great summer. And stay healthy 🙂

Wed Apr 17: Senator Ed Markey Visit, in place of class

by Prof. Hangen - April 16th, 2019

Our campus has the honor of hosting Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey for a town hall meeting in the May Street Auditorium, and it’s happening right at our class time on April 17. Perfect! Bonus points to anyone who asks him a question about health care policy. You might enjoy getting up to speed on what he thinks about it before his talk.

So … instead of class, let’s all meet there. I will have a clipboard with attendance, so look for me there, and enjoy the rare opportunity to hear one of your senators in person.

The event will start at 12:30 p.m., and be concluded by 2:00 p.m., in the May Street auditorium.

Best ~ Dr. Hangen

Unit 3 Intro: Health Care System Policy in Contemporary America

by Prof. Hangen - April 1st, 2019

For Unit 3, we make a giant leap in time forward to the present, to consider the ongoing, currently-unfolding political drama about health care policy (and yes, I promise you: it is a drama).

Wed, April 3: Health Care Policy before 2008. Begin by reading the Stevens article in the course reader, “History and Health Care Policy in the United States: The Making of a Health Care Industry, 1948-2008.” I STRONGLY recommend that you make a timeline in your own notes, to sort out the chronology and the important legislative milestones. Also, please read Christy Ford Chapin’s article for The Conversation, “Why Insurance Companies Control Your Medical Care” (online link). You can ignore the Burnham chapters as listed in the syllabus, we won’t be using those after all.

Mon, April 8: Field Guide to the Policy Landscape. Reading: Reagan’s 1961 “Operation Coffeecup” transcript, in the course reader. This was distributed by the American Medical Association as a vinyl record for people to listen to in home meetings (like Tupperware parties, but for fearmongering anti-Communist health care policy. Ah, the ’60s), so if you want to listen to Reagan’s velvet voice delivering it, you can find it on YouTube and follow along.

Links to explore on Monday during class –
Wikipedia –> Healthcare Reform in the United States
US History in Context –> Health Care Reform
BallotPedia –> History of Health Care Policy in the United States
American Medical Association –> Vision for Health Care Reform
Kaiser Family Foundations –> History of Health Reform in the US
New York Times –> Health Care Reform topic search
JAMA –> US Health Care Reform Progress to Date and Next Steps (B. Obama, 2016)
Pew Research –> Health Care
ProCon.org –> Obamacare or Right to Health Care
Commonwealth Fund –> Health Care System Performance Rankings

Wed, April 10: Film Day: Sicko (2007). No reading; Disease Project Paper due by classtime. Upload to Blackboard under “Assignments” portal.

End of Unit 2 – March 27 and April 1

by Prof. Hangen - March 26th, 2019

On Wed, March 27 we will discuss what replaced the 19th century doctor’s “box of blanks” by the mid-20th century. Please read and prepare to discuss Burnham Health Care in America, chapters 8 and 14.

Response #3 is due, deadline extended to midnight.

On Mon, April 1, bring your Disease Project posters to class and prepare to share and discuss your findings with your classmates.

Smallpox in America (March 18 – 25)

by Prof. Hangen - March 17th, 2019

Brandeis history professor Michael Willrich‘s book about smallpox traces the complex interactions between medicine, public health, government and politics in the Progressive Era. We will read this book over two weeks, from March 18 to March 25. Please bring the book to class on the days we’re discussing the assigned chapters, and use the discussion questions to guide your class preparation, note-taking and reading.

Discussion Questions for Pox

Mon, March 18: Read Pox, Prologue and Chapters 1-3

Wed, March 20: Read Pox, Chapters 4-5. Bring laptops this day, we’ll use some classtime for your Disease Project research.

Mon, March 25: Read Pox, Chapters 6-8. Bring laptops this day, we’ll use some classtime for your Disease Project research.

Unit 2: Professionalism, Science and Society

by Prof. Hangen - February 15th, 2019

In Unit 2, we move from the face-to-face world of “social healers” and few scientifically-based opportunities for medical training to the beginnings of medical professionalism and modern scientific theories and concepts.

Here’s how things look for the next few weeks, up to Spring Break (weather permitting).

For Wednesday, Feb 20 read the essay from The Birth of the Clinic by French philosopher Michel Foucault (Course Reader). Fair warning: it’s challenging reading, so set aside time to really read it closely, probably several times over.

I’ve also included in the Course Reader my own “Cliff Notes” (Ok, “Hangen Notes”) to the Foucault reading, to help you read your way through it. Also, this movie clip from the 1993 Harrison Ford film The Fugitive applies – I mention it in my notes.

For our discussion in class, consider:

Whether the “discourses” Foucault talks about were necessary or simply incidental to the development of the health care systems he describes.

How the health care settings you might be familiar with now are similar to / different than the ones Foucault writes about. Are they all “clinics” in Foucault’s terms? Why or why not?

Examples you are familiar with, about how “the medical gaze” informs modern health care practice.

For Monday, Feb 25: Changing Ideas and Practices. Read Chapter 3 in Burnham’s book, “Changing Ideas and Practices,” and Henry Jacob Bigelow’s article documenting first use of anesthesia in surgery at Mass General Hospital in 1846.
Reminder: Diagnosis History Paper due today, by classtime.

Boston Dentist Demonstrates Ether, Moments in Massachusetts History
Interactive History of Anesthesia (Wood Library Museum of Anesthesiology)


How does Foucault’s essay help frame or illuminate Burnham’s description of what happened to make medicine more “modern”?

How was observation and “the gaze” important to Bigelow’s approach to surgical innovation?

Painting, depicting Dr. John Collin Warren performing the first surgery using ether as anesthesia, administered by Dr. William Morton (a dentist), in the “Ether Dome” of Mass General Hospital, 1846.

For Wednesday, Feb 27: Inventing Modern Medicine. Read Chapters 4 and 5 of Porter, Blood and Guts and Chapter 4 of Burnham’s History

Koch’s Postulates (Vaccines History, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia)
Typhoid Mary (Youtube)
Quack Cures and Self Remedies: Patent Medicine (Digital Public Library of America)
Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound (ASU Embryo Project Encyclopedia)

For Monday, March 4: Germ Theory and Surgery. Read Chapters 6 and 7 of Porter, Blood and Guts and Chapters 5 and 6 of Burnham’s History.

For Wednesday, March 6: Progressive Era Public Health. Read Chapter 7 of Burnham’s History. Response Journal #2 is due on Blackboard.

Lewis and Clark Week (Feb 11 & 13)

by Prof. Hangen - February 11th, 2019

This week we look at another late 18th/early 19th century context of frontier medicine, medical care in the Lewis and Clark expedition (1803-1806).

For Monday, Feb 11 – Reading is Volney Steele, “Lewis and Clark: Keelboat Physicians” (Course Reader).

In Class: Film clips from Ken Burns, “Lewis and Clark”

On Wednesday, Feb 13 – bring laptops, we’ll be exploring in the online diaries of the members of the Corps of Discovery:


Martha Ballard Week – Feb 4 & 6

by Prof. Hangen - February 4th, 2019

This week we’ll be reading from / about the diary of Martha Ballard, a midwife, herbalist and “social healer” in late 18th century rural Maine. She is the subject of a Pulitzer-prizewinning history book, A Midwife’s Tale by Harvard history professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and a 1997 PBS / American Experience documentary. The diary itself — fragile, handwritten in fading ink — has been digitized so scholars like us can study it in depth, and is available at dohistory.org.

For Monday, prepare to discuss the chapter on 1787 (Course Reader)

For Wednesday, bring laptops or devices so we can use the digital version of the diary