Duration of Rotation: Academic Year


Prerequisite:  Have completed and approved Medicine I

Shakespeare has always been celebrated for the breadth and scope of his themes, the vividness of his characters and the beauty of his poetry.  However, the central issue I a study of Shakespeare’s dramatic characters pertains to the relation between the characters and the total structure of the action, be it that the structure is shaped from within –by the character’s circumstance- or from without –by the poetic logic of the play-.  In these days of increasing appreciation of the role of the patient’s circumstance in the causation, evolution and resolution of a clinical state Shakespeare provides a wealth of insights into the vagaries of the human condition.  It is the antidote against a distorted new medicine that has lost the patient as its focus as it founders in Balkanized hyper-specialization.  It is of cardinal importance as course objective to highlight the centrality of the human to the practice of medicine in all its complexity: it is about people: it is not even about persons: it is about those human beings don Miguel de Unamuno addressed as “el hombre de carne y hueso.”  Interweaving close analysis and conceptual exploration the course pursues issues of character and conflict against a background of philosophical significance as it illumines the biographical attributes the patient brings into the “clinical encounter.”  Viewed from this vantage point the Shakespeare that emerges is a philosophical dramatist at one time profoundly human as well as bracingly abstract; perspective central to bridging the dehumanizing cleavage of the patient’s person from the patient’s body that Foucault has labeled the “medical gaze.”  As McGinn says about Shakespeare, “There is not a sentimental bone in his body.”  He is endowed with the curiosity of a scientist, the judgment of a philosopher and the soul of a poet, and evidences a clinical prowess that would be an ornament on any physician.  We hope this course will be innovative and thought-provoking as well as an exhilarating reading and theatrical experience.  The course is intended as an instrument to heighten the appreciation for, and provide tools to, the decoding of the nuances, uncertainties, ambiguities and complexities inherent to clinical encounters thus facilitating biographical exegesis.

The student is expected to study and view the plays during the designated time period.  The discussion and analysis of each play constitutes a separate course, as required by the registrar’s office. The plays to be discussed will be Macbeth, Othello, King Lear and Hamlet, in that order.  Each has to be viewed and studied in its entirety and in sequence for each course to be considered completed.  Individual courses are free standing and they are independent of each other.  The student should read one act per week (5 weeks).  Each course will adhere to the dramatic sequence so the student is expected to attend the courses in the proper sequence and to keep up with the rhythm of the discussions.  A six and final session will be devoted to overall discussion and analysis.  At the end of each play the student is expected to prepare a brief essay pertinent to the main character focused as if the main character were a patient.  Failure to attend to an act’s discussion will forfeit that particular course.  There is no substitute for viewing and reading the plays in sequence and in their entirety.  Shakespeare understood the human psyche better than anyone alive or dead and he has encapsulated a treasure trove of life experiences in each one of his palys`.  His triumph has been “to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.”


Faculty in charge  :         Dr. Ángel A. Román-Franco