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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Undergraduate Course: Medicine in Literature 1: Illness Narratives through History (ENLI10355)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines the dynamic relationship between literature and medicine from the early modern period to the present day, giving English Literature and Medicine students the opportunity to consider the ways in which literature and medicine have influenced each other over time. The chronology of the course does not trace a history of medical progress; rather, it follows literature¿s interruption of and critical reflection on that history. Grotesque bodily humour, mysterious wounds, accounts of trauma, unspeakable pain, and the disruption of mind by illness will offer an alternative, literary perspective on medical history. Students will have the opportunity to place literary texts in their historical context, in order to better understand their reflections on illness, health, and medicine. The course will appeal to students who have a particular interest in the intersections between medicine, science and literature.

The course will achieve these aims by reading poems, plays and novels from antiquity to the present day, alongside various non-fiction sources. This course is, however, not merely a historical overview. It will allow students to examine the ways in which discourses of embodiment and the view of the sick body change according to shifting political, social and cultural contexts.
Course description 1. Introduction to the course
Mark Salzman, Lying Awake (2001)
Virginia Woolf, ¿On Being Ill¿ (1926) (provided via LEARN)
Kathleen Jamie, ¿Pathologies¿ (2010) (LEARN)

2. Laughter and the grotesque body
Extracts from Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World (1965) (LEARN)
Extracts from François Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel (1532-64) (LEARN)
Extracts from Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759-67) (LEARN)

3. Pain
Frances Burney, ¿Letter to Esther Burney¿ (1812) (LEARN)
John Keats, Lamia (1820) (LEARN)
Extract from Harriet Martineau, Life in the Sickroom (1844) (LEARN)

4. Dependency
Thomas De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater (1821)

5. Disease and community
Elizabeth Gaskell, Ruth (1853)

6. Disability?
H.G. Wells, In the Country of the Blind (1904) (LEARN)
John Milton, ¿On his blindness¿ [c.1655] (LEARN)
John Bercher, Cataract (2012) (LEARN)

7. Trauma and War
Selected WW1 poetry and W.H. Rivers ¿On the Repression of War Experience¿ (1918) (LEARN). We will focus on the following in class: Mary Borden, 'Unidentified'; Wilfred Owen, 'Mental Cases' and 'Dulce et Decorum Est'; Siegfried Sassoon, 'Repression of War Experience'. All the poems for this week¿s seminar can also be found in Tim Kendall, Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology (OUP, 2013).


9. AIDS Drama
Larry Kramer, The Normal Heart (1985); Tony Kushner, Angels in America (1995; 2007)

10. Ageing and the end of life
Extract from Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend (1864-65) (LEARN)
Alice Munro, ¿The Bear Came Over the Mountain¿ (2001), ¿Down by the Lake¿ (2012) (LEARN)
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( English Literature 1 (ENLI08001) OR Scottish Literature 1 (ENLI08016)) AND ( English Literature 2 (ENLI08003) OR Scottish Literature 2 (ENLI08004))
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students admitted to the intercalated BMedSci are also eligible to take this course.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesA MINIMUM of 4 college/university level literature courses at grade B or above (should include no more than one introductory level literature course). Related courses such as civilisation or other interdisciplinary classes, Freshman Year Seminars or composition/creative writing classes/workshops are not considered for admission to this course. Applicants should also note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission. In making admissions decisions preference will be given to students who achieve above the minimum requirement with the typical visiting student admitted to this course having 4 literature classes at grade A.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  15
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 30 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One coursework essay of 2,500 words (30%).
One practical assessment (10%).
Final assessment will consist of an examination essay of 3,000 words for both intercalated BA students and English Literature students (60%).

Visiting Student (Semester 1 only) Assessment
1 essay of 2,500 words (30%);
1 practical assessment (10%);
1 exam essay of 3,000 words (60%)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Academic year 2018/19, Part-year visiting students only (VV1) Quota:  3
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Other Study Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 166 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) one hour per week Autonomous Learning Group
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 30 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One coursework essay of 2,500 words (30%).
One practical assessment (10%).
Final assessment will consist of an examination essay of 3,000 words for both intercalated BA students and English Literature students (60%).

Visiting Student (Semester 1 only) Assessment
1 essay of 2,500 words (30%);
1 practical assessment (10%);
1 exam essay of 3,000 words (60%)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. By the end of the course, students will be able to demonstrate core skills in the study of English Literature: essay-writing, independent reading, group discussion, oral presentation, small-group autonomous learning
  2. perform textual analyses of literary texts
  3. demonstrate competency in interdisciplinary research
  4. show understanding of the relationship between literature and medicine as expressed in literary texts from the early modern period to the present day
Reading List
Further Reading

Thomas Laqueur, Making Sex (1990)
Howard Brody, Stories of Sickness (2003)
Frederick F. Cartwright, Disease and History (1972)
Rita Charon, Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness (2008)
Yasmin Gunaratnam and David Oliviere, Narrative and Stories in Healthcare: Illness, Dying, and Bereavement (2009)
A. F. Kleinman, The Illness Narratives: Suffering, Healing, and the Human Condition (1988)
Jeffrey Meyers, Disease and the Novel, 1880-1960 (1985)
Roy Porter, Bodies Politic: Disease, Death and Doctors in Britain, 1650-1900 (2001)
Gail Kern Paster, Humouring the Body: Emotions and the Shakespearean Stage (2004)
Rebecca Totaro, Suffering in Paradise: The Bubonic Plague in English Literature from More to Milton (2005)
Alan Bewell, Romanticism and Colonial Disease (1999)


Bowlby, Rachel, Virginia Woolf: Feminist Destinations (Edinburgh University Press, 1997)

Lee, Hermione, The Novels of Virginia Woolf (Methuen 1977)
--------------------- Virginia Woolf (Chatto and Windus, 1996)
Marcus, Jane, 'Pathographies: The Virginia Woolf Soap Operas', Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 17 (1992) 806-19

Roe, Sue and Susan Sellers, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Virginia Woolf (Cambridge University Press, 2000)

Early modern to eighteenth-century medicine

Anderson, J, ¿The Francois Rabelais School of Medicine¿, BMJ 2001; 323: 1456 doi:

Bakhtin, M.M., Rabelais and His World (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984)

Blackwell, Bonnie, ¿Tristram Shandy and the Theater of the Mechanical Mother¿, ELH (2001) 68:1, 81-133

Gallagher, Noelle, ¿Satire as Medicine in the Restoration and Early Eighteenth Century: The History of a Metaphor¿, Literature and Medicine (2013) 31:1, 17-39

Hawley, Judith, ¿Tristram Shandy, learned wit, and Enlightenment knowledge¿ in Cambridge Companion to Laurence Sterne (Cambridge University Press, 2009)

Ingram, Allan, et al., Melancholy Experience in Literature of the Long Eighteenth Century; Before Depression, 1660-1800 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011):|edinburgh-bibs|2230751

Mottolese, William C., ¿Tristram Cyborg and Toby Toolmaker: Body, Tools, and Hobbyhorse in Tristram Shandy¿, SEL 2007, Vol.47(3), pp.679-701

Paster, Gail Kern, Humoring the Body: Emotions and the Shakespearean Stage (University of Chicago Press, 2004)

Persels, J. and Russel Ganim, Fecal Matters in early modern literature and art: Studies in scatology (Ashgate 2004)

Sawday, Jonathan, The Body Emblazoned: Dissection and the Human Body in Renaissance Culture (Routledge, 1995)

Williams, A. ¿Sick Humour, Healthy Laughter: The Use of Medicine in Rabelais¿s Jokes¿, The Modern Language Review, 1 July 2006, 101:3, 671-81

Pain in the Romantic period

Bourke, Joanna, The Story of Pain (2014)
Byrne, Katherine, Tuberculosis and the Victorian Literary Imagination (Cambridge University Press, 2011)
Corcoran, Brendan, 'Keats's Death: Towards a Posthumous Poetics', Studies in Romanticism, 48:2 (2009) 321-348

Culler, Jonathan, The Pursuit of Signs: Semiotics, Literature, Deconstruction (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984)
de Almeida, Hermione, Romantic Medicine and John Keats (Oxford University Press, 1991)
Gigante, Denise, 'Keats's Nausea', Studies in Romanticism, 40:4 (2001),481-510. Article DOI: 10.2307/25601528
--------------------- Life: Organic Form and Romanticism (Yale Scholarship Online, 2009): DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300136852.001.0001 See in particular chapter 5, 'Keats's Principle of Monstrosity: Lamia'
Roe, Nicholas, John Keats: A New Life (Yale UP, 2012)
Sontag, Susan, Illness as Metaphor (Penguin, 1983; first published 1978)
Tagore, Proma, 'Keats in an Age of Consumption: The "Ode to a Nightingale"', Keats-Shelley Journal 49 (2000) 67-84
Brodie, J and Redfield, M, High anxieties : cultural studies in addiction (Berkeley; London: University of California Press, 2002)
Levin, Susan M., The Romantic Art of Confession: De Quincey, Musset, Sand, Lamb, Hogg, Fre¿my, Soulie¿, Janin (Camden House:1998)
Morrison, R. ¿De Quincey¿s Addiction¿, Romanticism 2011 17:3, 270-77
Vice, S., Campbell, M. and Armstrong, T., Beyond the Pleasure Dome (Sheffield Academic Press, 1994)
Contagion - Victorian
Anderson, Amanda. Tainted Souls and Painted Faces: The Rhetoric of Fallenness in Victorian Culture. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993.
Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. 2nd ed. London: Verso, 2006.
Christensen, Allan Conrad. Nineteenth-Century Narratives of Contagion: Our Feverish Contact. London: Routledge, 2005.
Dormandy, Thomas, The White Death: A History of Tuberculosis (Hambledon, 1999)
Easson, Angus, ed. Elizabeth Gaskell: The Critical Heritage. London and New York: Routledge, 1991.
Flint, Kate. Elizabeth Gaskell. Plymouth: Northcote House, 1995.
Gaskell, Elizabeth. The Letters of Mrs Gaskell. Eds. Chapple, J.A.V. and Arthur Pollard. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1966.
Hardy, Anne. The Epidemic Streets: Infectious Disease and the Rise of Preventive Medicine, 1856-1900. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993
Levy, Heather. ¿¿With Arms Entwined¿: Deadly Deceit and Romantic Friendship in Ruth and Lois the Witch. Ed. Jung, Sandro. Elizabeth Gaskell, Victorian Culture, and the Art of Fiction ¿ Original Essays for the Bicentenary. Gent: Academia, 2010. 83-98.
Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing: What It Is, and What It Is Not (Cambridge University Press, 2010; first published 1860). Book DOI
Pelling, Margaret. "Contagion/Germ Theory/Specificity." Companion Encyclopaedia of the History of Medicine. London: Routledge, 1993. 309-34.
Pickstone, John V. Medicine and Industrial Society: A History of Hospital Development in Manchester and Its Region, 1752-1946. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1985.
Spink, Wesley W. Infectious Diseases: Prevention and Treatment in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1978.
Uglow, Jenny. Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories. London: Faber and Faber, 1993.
Athena Vrettos, Somatic Fictions: Imagining Illness in Victorian Culture (1995)
Zinsser, Hans. Rats, Lice and History: A Chronicle of Pestilence and Plague. Boston, 1935. New York, NY.: Black Dog & Leventhal, 1976.
Davis, Lennard J., The Disability Studies Reader (2010)
Kleege, Georgina, ¿Blindness and Literature¿, Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies 2009 3:2
Linett, M, ¿Blindness and Intimacy in Early Twentieth-Century Literature¿, Mosaic 2013 46:3, 27-42
War and Trauma
Berry, Diana and Campbell Mackenzie (eds.), The Legacy of War: Poetry, Prose, Painting and Physic (1995)
Bogacz, Ted, 'War Neurosis and Cultural Change in England, 1914-22: The Work of the War Office Committee of Enquiry into 'Shell-Shock'', Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 24, No. 2, Studies on War (Apr., 1989), pp.227-256
Caruth, Cathy, Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, narrative, and history (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996)---- ed., Trauma: Explorations in Memory (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996)
Kendall, Tim, ed., The Oxford Handbook of British and Irish War Poetry, Oxford Handbooks Online. 2012-09-18. Oxford University Press. «».
---Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology (Oxford University Press, 2013)
Micale, Mark S. and Paul Frederick Lerner, Traumatic pasts : history, psychiatry, and trauma in the modern age, 1870-1930 (Cambridge University Press, 2001)
Pederson, Joshua, 'Speak, Trauma: Toward a Revised Understanding of Literary Trauma Theory', Narrative 22:3 (2014) 333-53.
Leese, Peter. Shell shock : traumatic neurosis and the British soldiers of the First World War (Palgrave, 2002)
Lomas, Herbert, 'The Critic as Anti-Hero: War Poetry', The Hudson Review, 38: 3 (1985), 376-389
Reid, Fiona, Broken men : shell shock, treatment and recovery in Britain, 1914-1930 (Continuum, 2010)
Rivers, W.H.R. 'The Repression of War Experience', Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine 11 (1918) 1-20 Susan Sontag, AIDS and Its Metaphors (Penguin, 1990; first published 1989)
Salisbury, Laura and Andrew Shail, Neurology and modernity : a cultural history of nervous systems, 1800-1950 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)
Stone, Martin, 'Shell-shock and the Psychologists', in The Anatomy of Madness, eds. W.F. Bynum, Roy Porter, and Michael Shepherd (Tavistock, 1985), vol. 2
Talbott, John E., 'Soldiers, Psychiatrists, and Combat Trauma', The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 27: 3 (1997), 437-454

Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information Seminar: 2 hours per week for 10 weeks; plus 1 hour(s) per week for 10 week(s): attendance at autonomous learning group at time to be arranged
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Katherine Inglis
Tel: (0131 6)50 3617
Course secretaryMs Monique Brough
Tel: (0131 6)50 3620
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