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DavidsonNext: Representations of HIV/AIDS

Why study Representations of HIV/AIDS? What is our course philosophy?

This class engages students in a transdisciplinary conversation about representations of HIV/AIDS: in scientific articles, journalism, visual art, literature, drama, and popular culture. You will join us in studying widely varying representations of HIV/AIDS from the perspective of the kinds of academics we are: a literary critic and a scientist. We believe that scientists and literary/cultural critics can learn valuable lessons from one another, even as they create their own responses to HIV/AIDS. Today, over 30 years since the first scientific reports of HIV/AIDS, the pandemic remains a major health concern throughout the world. But, rays of hope have led to speculation that an AIDS-free generation may be possible. In such a timely moment, it is essential for us to connect across the "two cultures" as we consider the social and scientific implications of HIV/AIDS.

Representations of HIV/AIDS
10 weeks
1 hours per week
Instructor-led on a course schedule
This course is archived

About this course

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This course is seven weeks long; new weeks will release every Monday at 14:00 UTC (10 am ET in the United States) and remain open until two weeks after the final week is released. We strongly encourage you to remain with the pace of the course. The class is heavily discussion-based, and discussions will be most active around the most current week. Release dates are as follows:

Week Two: October 13

Week Three: October 20

Week Four: October 27

Week Five: November 3

Week Six: November 10

Week Seven: November 17

Please also note: starting with week 2, every week will first be led off by a short video Dave and Ann post in response to the discussion forums (particularly those centered around the cultural artifacts) from the previous week.

At a glance

  • Institution:


  • Subject: Art & Culture
  • Level: Introductory
  • Prerequisites:
  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English
  • Associated skills:Scientific Literature, Journalism, Visual Arts, Student Engagement

What you'll learn

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You will learn the following:

  1. How to do a basic analysis of literary and scientific texts.
  2. How scientists and artists create knowledge, and what they have in common as they do so.
  3. A general understanding of the scientific and artistic history of HIV/AIDS.
  4. How language, both scientific and artistic, shapes our ideas about HIV/AIDS.
  5. How visual representation in the arts and sciences is critical for advancing important ideas about HIV/AIDS.
  6. How the individual experience of living with HIV/AIDS has changed over the last three decades, and why understanding HIV/AIDS through personal stories is important.
  7. Current debates and developments in HIV/AIDS.
  8. How to interpret what we call "cultural artifacts"--i.e., widely-available representations of HIV/AIDS.
  9. How the arts and sciences can more generally inform each other in responding to global problems like the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

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