Courses and Teaching

Research and teaching involving the history of medicine and healthcare spans all eras and regions, from the origins of the healing arts to the latest scientific breaktrhoughs.

Scholarship involving historical approaches to medicine and healthcare is an evolving area of focus at the University of Toronto, with investigators based in several centres including the History of Medicine Program as well as the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science (IHPST) and the History Department in the Faculty of Arts & Science.  While most of these scholars focus on the early modern and modern eras (17th century–present), their areas of specialization are otherwise diverse, encompassing representations / perceptions of the body and self; the evolution of practice and the relationship between professional authorities and the public; issues involving gender and sexuality, race, eugenics and genetics; sociocultural developments in the western countries and in Russia; psychosomatic medicine, psychiatry and psychopharmacology. Interdisciplinary approaches to the relationship between women, health and biomedicine are found in the Women & Gender Studies Institute and in WGS 367 (Women and Health) in the Department of Historical Studies at UT Mississauga.

Interest in historical approaches to healthcare and practice is also growing within the clinical sector, with the emergence of mutlidisciplinary collaborations including the Health, Arts and Humanities Program and the November 2012 conference Taking Toronto’s Healthcare History.

Joint Graduate/Senior Undergraduate Courses

  • HIS 423F/1269F - Social History of Medicine - More Info

  • HIS 489F/1270F - History of Psychiatry and Psychiatric Illness - More Info

Professor Shorter offers two regularly scheduled courses through the Department of History.  Both are joint graduate/senior undergraduate (400 series) seminar classes offered during the fall term each year.


Enrolment in History courses is controlled by the Department, not  by individual instructors or by the History of Medicine Program. 
For all matters relating to enrolment or ROSI, undergraduate applicants should contact the Undergraduate Administrator or their College Registrar.

Graduate students should apply through the Graduate Administrator  Those affiliated with another department, institute or faculty (e.g. IHPST) need to complete School of Graduate Studies (SGS) Add/Drop Course form including signatures from their home unit and the Instructor and and submit it to the Graduate Administrator in order to enrol.

Independent Studies

In addition to the regular History curriculum, Prof. Shorter is available to supervise senior undergraduate and graduate students wishing to undertake independent research projects.

Independent studies at the senior undergraduate level can be either single-term or full-year projects, designated as HIS498H1-F/S (single-term) or HIS 499Y1-Y , and usually involve the preparation of a major paper.

A graduate reading/research course option is available in the MA History program (a major research paper known within the Department as a 2000 paper). 

Prof. Shorter is also qualified to supervise independent reading and research courses relevant to the History of Medicine associated with other units such as IHPST.

Graduate Supervision

Prof. Shorter welcomes inquiries from prospective and active MA and PhD students interested in the history of medicine or psychiatry.  He is available to act as a primary or joint supervisor for graduate students undertaking scholarship in these fields.