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HL8001: Madness in Literature and Film sem1AY2015-2016 Instructor: Michelle Chiang Meets

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HL8001_Grace Chia Krakovic_SEM1AY2013-2014

HL8001: Madness in Literature and Film

Instructor: Michelle Chiang

Meets: _______, ____- ____ , LT__


Consultation: In class or via email consultations.
Subject Description

This course looks at the ways in which “madness” is presented and interpreted in selected literature and films from the late 19th century onwards. Through close reading of literary and visual narratives, students will consider how representations of mental illnesses are employed to critique aspects of society and challenge the audience member or reader’s habitual framework of understanding. The depicted mental illnesses in each work will be discussed in the contexts of existing constructs of reality; the representation of women; societal expectations; sexual transgressions, and the uses of technology.

Core texts available in the Opentrolley bookstore:

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar (1963), Perennial, 2005

J. G. Ballard, Crash (1973), with an introduction by Zadie Smith, Fourth Estate, 2014

Ian McEwan, Enduring Love (1997), Anchor Books, 1997

Core texts available on edveNTUre:

Antonin Artaud “To Have Done with the Judgment of God”, 1948

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”, 1892

Secondary texts available on edveNTUre:

Excerpts from:

Michel Foucault’s Madness & Civilization

RD Laing’s The Divided Self

Sigmund Freud’s “Lecture XXXI The Dissection of the Psychical Personality”
Films (available in Business Library)
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest directed by Miloš Forman (1975)

Breaking The Waves, directed by Lars von Trier (1996)

The Piano Teacher, directed by Michael Haneke (2001)

Spider, directed by David Cronenberg (2002)

Shutter Island, directed by Martin Scorsese (2010)
Course Assessment

Coursework Essay (750 – 1000 words): 50%

- Essays due on_______________. Late essays will be marked down.

Final Exam: 50%

- Students to answer 2 questions, one on a film, another on a written text.
*Plagiarism will not be tolerated & will result in automatic failure of the course.
Tentative Lecture Schedule (subject to change)





Lecture 1: Introduction

Overview of excerpts from

Michel Foucault’s Madness & Civilization, RD Laing’s The Divided Self,

Sigmund Freud “Lecture XXXI The Dissection of the Psychical Personality”


Lecture 2: The Institution I

Film: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, directed by Milos Forman (1975)


Lecture 3: The Institution II

Radio play: Antonin Artaud’s ‘To Have Done with the Judgement of God’ (1948)


Lecture 4: Gender & Confinement I

Short Story: Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892)


Lecture 5: Gender & Confinement II

Novel: Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar (1963)


Lecture 6: Expectations & Repression

Film: The Piano Teacher (2001), directed by Michael Haneke


Lecture 7: Technology & Fetishism

Novel: J G Ballard, Crash (1973)




Lecture 8: Reality as Construct

Novel: Ian McEwan, Enduring Love (1997)


Essay Workshop


Lecture 9: The Divided Self & Trauma

Film: Spider (2002), directed by David Cronenberg


Lecture 10: The Divided Self & Schizophrenia

Film: Shutter Island (2010), directed by Martin Scorsese


Lecture 11: Religion & Schizophrenia

Film: Breaking The Waves (1996), directed by Lars von Trier


Review: Q&A

*Please Note:

Students are only required to write their essays and exam papers based on the CORE TEXTS stipulated in the course syllabus. All SECONDARY TEXTS are meant for supplementary reading to help students gain more expansive knowledge on the subject material.

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