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Madness and Literature

ENGL 102.401
instructor(s):
MWF 1

In the first half of the English 43-44 two-course sequence, I plan to deal with a body of works relating to madness, inspiration, religious millenarianism, and various aspects of mental instability from about 1500 to the end of the eighteenth century. There will be a bulkpack of background readings on medical issues such as treatment, asylums, schizophrenia, abnormal sexual behavior, and the criminally insane. In addition, I plan to discuss works by Erasmus, Shakespeare, Burton, Swift, Defoe, Sterne, Smart, and Blake as well as a selection of texts by and about women's mental diseases, whether real or imaginary. Students will write one short book review and one longer critical essay and, in place of examinations, there will be two overnight take-home snap papers. I hope to be able to augment the usual format of the large lecture course with regular weekly discussion sessions.