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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 Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting 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 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.

Important note re Content

In this course we will be discussing content that may be traumatising to some students. We believe in the importance of engaging with this material and so please rest assured that we will work with you to ensure you can participate fully and demonstrate your achievement of the learning outcomes of the course, without compromising your wellbeing or your academic development. If you have concerns at any point we invite you to approach the course organiser Dr Katherine Inglis ( to discuss how we can best support you in your work on this course. We affirm that you will be treated with dignity and respect in all discussions and at every stage of the course.
Course description This course consolidates students' knowledge of the critical study of English Literature through the close examination of works of drama, poetry, and prose from the early modern period to the present day. The course is designed to expose students to a range of literary forms (essays, short fiction, short lyric, plays, realist fiction, memoir) and to develop modes of analysis appropriate for engaging with each. The set reading list is available on the Resource List for the course. The chronological structure broadly traces the stages of life (from conception to end of life), mapping these onto a chronological survey of major literary periods (early modern to contemporary literature).

The course's historical approach will train students in methods appropriate for analysing texts in their historical contexts, with a particular focus on the relationship between the history of medicine (defined broadly to include health, wellbeing, and illness). The course also introduces students to theories that are of particular importance in the emerging field of the medical humanities, and which offer alternative models for analysing issues raised in their core course texts, such as disability studies, trauma theory, narrative ethics and narratology. The course will introduce students to interdisciplinary scholarship, through critical study of the dynamic relationship between literature and medicine.

Students who are interested in this course might also like to consider Medical Ethics in Literature, which focuses on related issues in twentieth-century to contemporary literature.

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.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  11
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 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One Coursework Essay of 2,500 words: 40%
One time-limited Final Essay of 3000 words: 60%
Feedback Students will receive written feedback on both assessments. They will also receive feedback on weekly formative group assignments.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. use subject-specific vocabulary correctly to discuss 'illness' in its literary and historical context, drawing upon major critical and theoretical approaches to the study of illness in the literary medical humanities, particularly: close reading, disability studies, and history of medicine
  2. analyse the relationship between literature and medicine as expressed in texts on the course
  3. demonstrate competency in interdisciplinary research by applying literary critical, historical, and medical humanities approaches to analyse the representation of 'illness' in texts on the course
  4. articulate (in written form) an informed understanding of the diverse meanings of 'illness' in texts on the course
Reading List
Resource List for course:
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information Weekly autonomous learning groups, weekly engagement with class through LEARN.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Katherine Inglis
Tel: (0131 6)50 3617
Course secretaryMiss Kara McCormack
Tel: (0131 6)50 3030
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