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Madness and Society (HI383)

Module Tutor: Professor Hilary Marland 
Office: Humanities Building, Room H319


Module summary

This final-year (30 CATS) undergraduate module utilises a rich secondary literature and a selection of primary (including many online) sources to explore the relationship between madness and society from the 18th century to the present day. A major focus of the module will be the rise of institutional approaches to the treatment of mental disorder from 18th-century ‘mad-houses’ to asylums governed according to the dictates of moral treatment, and then towards the end of the 19th century vast establishments ‘silted’ up with ‘chronic’ long-term patients. The module also explores the demise of the mental hospital in the 20th century, and the move towards new treatment approaches, including psychoanalysis, ECT and other somatic treatments and drug-based therapies. It explores differing practices in terms of labelling mental illness and the rise of new categories of mental disorder, including hysteria and shell shock. While the module seeks to uncover the history of psychiatry and its practitioners and institutions, its strongest focus is on shifting attitudes to mental illness, unearthing the patients' view, and considering mental illness alongside gender and sexuality, changes in family life, migration, ethnicity and race, class and religion, and changing political and economic landscapes.

Past students have commented:

'Enjoyed the diversity of the subject, really interesting module', 'Seminar tutor is passionate and engages well with the class', and 'Absolutely fantastic module - by far my favourite at university ever!', 2018-19 feedback

The images on this site are taken from Wellcome Images, one of the Wellcome Library's major visual collections. On each page, you can click on separate images for enlargements and references. Wellcome Images is one of the world's richest and most unique collections, with themes ranging from medical and social history to contemporary healthcare and biomedical science. The Wellcome Library, meanwhile, provides a wonderful set of online resources, including many on the history of mental illness.

You should follow the guidance/seminar questions on this (the sitebuilder) module outline, which I will occasionally update, and utilise Talis Aspire as a resource for locating the readings.

The scanned materials/course extracts are available at course extracts

Talis Aspire module reading list is available.





Madness in Sir Thomas Bell, The Anatomy and Philosophy of Expression (1844)