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Syllabus-seeing madness

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SEEING MADNESS: Mental Illness and Visual Culture


Please note that classes will meet for screening of films and other presentations in the lunch hour just before the regularly scheduled Monday session. You should plan on being at the classroom (Regenstein 2nd floor) at 12 noon, and the class will run until 4:30. 


This syllabus is subject to changes and additions to be announced in class.

Françoise Meltzer:  

Harper East 688; office hours Tuesday 2-4:00                         

W. J. T. Mitchell:   

Wieboldt 203; office hours Tuesday 2-3:30


Required Texts
André Breton, Nadja

Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization

Sigmund Freud, Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria

Sander Gilman, Seeing the Insane


*Additional course readings will be available on electronic reserve through the CHALK course website under “Course Documents.” 


Required Work
 Oral Report on Research Project; Seminar paper @ 25 pages
Class Schedule


WEEK 1: January 3: Introduction

Films: “Shutter Island” (Martin Scorsese, 2010); scenes from “Proof” (John Madden, 2005)


WEEK 2: January 10: Picturing Madness

Gilman’s Seeing the Insane 

Charcot photographs*

Films: “The Snake Pit,” (Anatole Litvak, 1948); scenes from “Frances” (Graeme Clifford, 1982)


WEEK 3: January 17: Incarceration - Guest: Michael Wilmington

Foucault’s Madness and Civilization, and preface to The Birth of the Clinic* 

Films: “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (Milos Forman,1975) and scenes from “David and Lisa” (Frank Perry, 1962)

January 19: Screening at Film Studies Center: Page of Madness (Kinugasa, 1926), with live music by the Tasu Aoki (SAIC) Quartet, 8 PM. Follow this link to reserve a ticket:


WEEK 4: January 24: Image/Music/Text  - Guest: Janice Misurell-Mitchell. (scholar, musician/composer)

William Blake's “Mad Song”* and The Book of Urizen

Susan McLary’s Feminine Endings (excerpts from Chapter 4); sound files to go with reading.*

Selections from Artaud; Hölderlin

Dostoevsky, “Underground”* from Notes from Underground


WEEK 5: January 31: Alterity in Madness: Gender, Sexuality, and the Clinical Gaze

Freud’s Dora

Film: “Now Voyager” (Irving Rapper, 1942)

Recommended Reading: Lauren Berlant, “Remembering Love, Forgetting Everything Else,” ch. 5 of The Female Complaint*


WEEK 6: February 7:  Alterity and Madness II

Selection from Polly Teale’s “After Mrs. Rochester” (2003)*

Selections from Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin,White Masks (Introduction, Chapter 4, Chapter 6, Conclusion)*

Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (Introduction)*

WEEK 7: February 14: Taxonomies of Mental Illness - Guest: Bernard Rubin, M.D. and psychoanalyst

Selection from DSM IV*

Selection from Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus (“Introduction to Schizoanalysis”)*

Film: A Beautiful Mind (Ron Howard, 2001)


WEEK 8: February 21: Divinity and Madness

Seections from John Saward’s Perfect Fools: Folly for Christ's Sake in Catholic and Orthodox Spirituality (Chapters 1, 4, 7, 8)*

Selection from Aeschylus’s Agamemnon (pp. 139-159)*

Film: “Marat/Sade” (Peter Brook, 1967)


WEEK 9: February 28: The Politics of Psychiatry - Guest: Bernard Rubin

Jan De Vos's "Depsychologizing Torture,” Critical Inquiry

A discussion on ethics in psychiatry (torture under dictatorship in Brazil)

Film: Manchurian Candidate


WEEK 10: March 7: Madness and Aesthetics

Breton’s Nadja

Selections from The Collected Writings of Salvador Dali ("The Rotting Donkey" (1930), "New General Considerations Regarding the Mechanism of the Paranoiac Phenomenon from the Surrealist Point of View" (1933), "Millet's L'Angelus" (1933), "The Tragic Myth of Millet's L'Angelus: Paranoiac Critical Interpretation (excerpts)" (1963))*

Selections from Jacques Lacan* 

Films : “Un chien andalou” (Luis Bunuel,1929) and “L’âge d’or” (Bunuel, 1930); plus slides of works by Dali


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