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MSc History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Madness and Society in the Modern Age

Unit code HSTM60692
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Centre for History of Science, Technology & Medicine (L5)
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

This unit explores the history of mental illness from the late eighteenth century to the present.  It examines how insanity has been understood, treated, and represented within larger social, cultural, and intellectual frameworks; it will also relate changing ideas about and approaches to mental illness, health, and functioning to larger questions in the history of the medical and biological sciences.  

Aims

  • Provide students with an overview of the major changes in the understanding, management and meaning of mental illness from 1800 to the present;
  • Help students to develop an understanding of how these changes have been understood and explained by historians and social scientists;
  • Locate these changes in their broader social, cultural, intellectual, and political contexts;
  • Consider how this history has shaped contemporary debates regarding mental health, psychiatry, and neuroscience;
  • Develop facility in analysing and discussing relevant secondary literature and locating primary sources on the history of mental illness.
 

Teaching and learning methods

The unit will be taught in six two-hour seminar sessions, where we will discuss a range of required readings (primary and secondary). While students are asked to read all required readings for the week, they are assigned individual readings which they introduce and place in their historiographical contexts. Readings and additional materials will usually be made available through Blackboard. In addition to the seminars, which run over six weeks, students are strongly encouraged to attend the lectures delivered for the undergraduate sister unit, which runs over 12 weeks, through the whole semester.

Knowledge and understanding

- Demonstrate extensive knowledge of changing understandings of and approaches to mental illness since circa 1800.

Intellectual skills

- Place understandings of the mind and approaches to mental illness in their historical contexts
- Understand secondary literature on the history of mental illness in their theoretical and historiographical contexts
- Critique approaches to mental illness based on an understanding of their history
- Identify potentially fruitful topics for research projects in the history of psychiatry and mental illness
 

Practical skills

- Place understandings of the mind and approaches to mental illness in their historical contexts
- Understand secondary literature on the history of mental illness in their theoretical and historiographical contexts
- Critique approaches to mental illness based on an understanding of their history
- Identify potentially fruitful topics for research projects in the history of psychiatry and mental illness
 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

- Discuss complex issues based on an understanding of their history
- Work independently on a research project
- Work effectively in a team, leading or following when appropriate, and contributing and listening.
 

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

Feedback methods

Detailed written feedback from primary assessor. 

Recommended reading

  • Andrew Scull, Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity, from the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine (London: Thames & Hudson, 2015). 
  • Edward Shorter, A History of Psychiatry: From the Era of the Asylum to the Age of Prozac (Chichester: Wiley, 1997). 
  • W. F Bynum, Roy Porter, and Michael Shepherd, eds., The Anatomy of Madness: Essays in the History of Psychiatry, Volumes 1-3 (London: Routledge, 2004
  • Greg Eghigian, ed., The Routledge History of Madness and Mental Health, Routledge Histories (New York: Routledge, 2017). 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 12
Independent study hours
Independent study 138

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Carsten Timmermann Unit coordinator

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