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Madness and English Literature : The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

ENGL 044.800

A survey of the major literature and imaginative contributions to the culture of madness and insanity in England, 1700-1900.  The course includes several weeks of Background on medical history of mental illness.  The authors studied include Swift, Samuel Johnson, Sterne, Blake, selected Romantic writers (including Wordsworth, and John Clare), Emily Bronte, Tennyson, and a number of Gothicists and authors of horror stories from Walpole to Edgar Allen Poe.  Medical and historical writers studied include Benjamin Rush, Freud, Michel Foucault, George Rosen, and Thomas Szasz.  The course includes attention to such topics and the personality and mental problems of various writers, the role of madness and inspiration in pre- 1900 literature, and the study of asylums.  There will be two short (5-10pp.) papers, of which one is a book review, one substantial paper (15-20 pp.), and no exams.

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