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Unit information: Literature and Medicine in 2020/21

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Unit name Literature and Medicine
Unit code ENGLM3022
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Lee
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will explore the interrelation between medicine in literature across a range of literary genres and historical periods. Topics will include: representations of the body in literature; the complex interaction of literature and psychoanalysis; illness and the nature of artistic experience; the representation of doctors in literary texts; nervous disorders and the novel of sensibility; Shakespeare and medicine; literary constructions of physical and mental illness; and illness as metaphor.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • Be familiar with a wide range of literary texts that engage with medicine.
  • Understand several critical approaches that have characterised recent scholarly discussion in the interdisciplinary field of literature and medicine.
  • Be able to construct a reasoned argument supported by appropriate use of evidence and analysis.
  • To understand some of the ways in which illness has been imagined, represented, and theorized in both literary texts and criticism.
  • to understanding of how of ideas about physical and mental illness develop and change over different historical periods.

Teaching Information

Teaching will involve asynchronous and synchronous elements, including group discussion, research and writing activities, and peer dialogue. Students are expected to engage with the reading and participate fully with the weekly tasks and topics. Learning will be further supported through the opportunity for individual consultation.

Assessment Information

  • 1 x 5000 word essay (100%)

Reading and References

  • Howard Brody, Stories of Sickness (rev. 2003)
  • Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor (rev. 1990)
  • Elaine Showalter, The Female Malady: Women, Madness and English Culture, 1830-1980 (1985)
  • Cheryl Mattingly, Healing Dramas and Clinical Plots: The Narrative Structure of * Experience (2003)
  • Virginia Woolf, On Being Ill (1940)
  • George Eliot, Middlemarch