Your browser is unsupported

We recommend using the latest version of IE11, Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

Perils of the Normal – UIC CME

Updated: 3/29/19

THIS ELECTIVE IS OFFERED October 21 – November 02, 2024 

Available to M3 and M4 Students

This course will examine the concept of the abnormal as it is used in biomedicine. To that end, we will spend a good deal of time interrogating the formulations and functions of the Normal. To make our interrogation of this enormous and pervasive topic manageable, we will focus our attention on a familiar – and seemingly stable – object: the body. Despite all that our bodies share in common, differences in shape, size, and color or gender, behavior and desire can elicit wildly opposing reactions ranging from sympathy and disgust to affection and violence. The body’s ability to engender such disparate responses stems in large part from the various and contradictory ways science and medicine have invested it with meaning. Each of the literary, filmic, and historic narratives selected for this seminar tackles biomedicine’s role in determining what is and is not abnormal. Through a humanities-driven exploration of biomedicine’s role in defining what is normal and abnormal, students will learn critical skills that will aid in caring for patients who are different from them based on gender identity, sexual orientation, and bodily morphology.


The following competencies will be addressed directly or indirectly :

1.Patient Care

  • Consider the cultural and socioeconomic factors in management options
  • Counsel and educate patients and their families

2.Medical Knowledge

  • Understand the cultural factors important to health care
  • Understand relevant legal and ethical concepts

3.Practice-Based Learning and Improvement

  • Assess his/her strengths and weaknesses in order to improve performance and identify effective ways to address limitations and enhance expertise
  • Access information effectively, efficiently, critically appraise the information and relate it to their patient’s health problems
  • Admit his/her limits of knowledge, know what to do when those limits are reached, deal with uncertainty, and respect the opinions of others
  • Recognize the need to learn is continuous

4.Interpersonal and Communication Skills

  • Listen attentively
  • Professionalism
  • Respect the opinion of others
  • Recognize the need to learn is continuous
  • Demonstrate respect for human dignity


  • Class Meetings: Depending on the topic or theme for the class, the hourly breakdown will vary according to assigned readings and discussions of them. A typical class will contain three hours of discussion and one hour of in-class group activities (3-4 hours prep time)
  • Small Group Discussion: 2 hours each day
  • Student Presentation: 20 mins (1-2 hours prep time)
  • Reflective Paper: 2-3 hours to complete
  • Final 7-page paper: 8-10 hours to complete

Students will be evaluated on their written work for the class, their class presentations, and the participation in class discussion by faculty leader in the form of written and verbal feedback. Monday of second week students will receive verbal feedback during a one-on­ one meeting with faculty leader.

Required Reading:

  • Peter Shaffer, Equus
  • Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis
  • Toni Morrison’s Sula

Administrative Information Heading link

  • Program Number

    ELEC 422

  • Program Contacts

    Program Director: Michael Blackie, PhD
    Telephone: 213-324-4796 (Cell)

  • Program Information

    Location: UIC Department of Medical Education

    Duration: 2 weeks
    Night call: No
    Weekends: No
    Students accepted: Minimum: 3 – Maximum: 12
    House staff used as faculty: No
    Inpatient/faculty contact: NA
    Laboratory/independent study: No lab
    Outpatient: No
    Total hour week: 40