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Madness and Society: Seminars and Learning Outcomes


TBC, weeks 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 in Term 1 and weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 in Term 2 (week 6 is reading week in both terms). In Term 3 we shall meet in Weeks 2 and 4 for our revision seminars (TBC depending on examination date).
If possible there will be a visit to the Modern Records Centre on campus in Term 2.
Advanced Options involve the study of broad-ranging themes in a comparative and/or interdisciplinary context over a long chronological time frame. You can expect them to operate at a rather more sophisticated conceptual level than first- or second-year modules.
The module will be taught primarily through seminar discussion, which will be largely student-led. Generally each session commences with a short introduction from the tutor, including topics to be covered and questions that we will engage with. These are aimed at helping you grasp the main themes and issues, but as a third-year student you will be expected to organise your own learning rather more independently than hitherto. Seminars will vary in format and include debates, presentations and work in small groups. I am keen to include everyone in the discussions and for you to relate the historical topics we cover to current debates on mental illness. Try not to think of the seminars as 'self-contained'; they overlap and we will revisit issues as the module progresses. Although the course is based largely on a rich secondary material, emphasis is placed on introducing a range of primary sources, many on-line, including asylum records and official reports, patient’s narratives, art and photography, and film.
  • Demonstrate a systematic knowledge and understanding of the relationship between madness and society from the 18th century to the present day, including lay and medical responses to mental disorder, based on scientific, cultural, intellectual and popular ideas and influences

  • Critically analyse and evaluate a broad range of primary sources (including psychiatric texts, case notes, asylum archives, legal records, the reports of reformers and Lunacy Commissioners, novels, art, photography, film and patient narratives) relating to the historical controversies surrounding the study of madness

  • Effectively communicate ideas, and make informed, coherent and persuasive arguments, relating to the history of mental disorder.

  • Critically review and consolidate theoretical, methodological, and historiographical ideas relating to the history of mental disorder