Studies in Literature and the Mind

Course Number: ENGL 170MI
Prerequisites: Check on GOLD
Advisory Enrollment Information: May be repeated for credit providing letter designations are different.
General Education Areas Fulfilled: GE Area G Requirement, Writing Requirement
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 170AA-ZZ
Quarter: Spring 2020
Instructor: Miller, Jesse
Day(s): TBD
Time: TBD
Location: TBD
Description:

In this course we will explore representations of mental illness in modern America in its literary, cultural, political, philosophical, and medical dimensions. Looking at mental illness and trauma as it is experienced in diverse contexts and communities, we will ask: How have understandings and treatments of mental illness changed over time? How does literature add to neurochemical accounts of mental illness? What do representations of mental illness tell us about cultural ideals of freedom, rationality, and reason, and cultural anxieties about violence, disorder, and the unknown? Readings may include historical, sociological, and medical writings about mental illness, alongside literary works by writers such as Edgar Allen Poe, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, William Faulkner, Sylvia Plath, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Shani Mootoo. We will also consider how members of contemporary mad pride, anti-psychiatry, and psych-survivor movements are responding to popular representations and institutions for the treatment of mental illness today, and how can we make our campus a safer and more therapeutic space. Ultimately, our goal is to expand and complicate our understanding of mental illness, as well as to think broadly and creatively about the impact of literature on mental health, and effective ways to treat mental illness and trauma in our community to promote individual and collective well being.