This course examines the ways madness, as lived experience and as social category, has been studied and represented across cultures and genres. As a mental illness, schizophrenia challenges conventional ways of knowing the relationships between mind and body, thought and perception, illness and cure, and self and society. Biomedicine offers one set of explanations for schizophrenia, but these explanations are partial and incomplete, themselves historically-contingent. Given the limits of biomedical understandings of the causes, courses, and treatments for schizophrenia, we must look to other disciplines for insights into the lived experience of psychosis, cultural representations of madness, and schizophrenia as a social category. Drawing largely from medical anthropology and cultural studies, this class probes questions such as: How do representations of madness serve to reinforce ideas of “normality” and “abnormality” across time and social contexts? What do psychotic experiences tell us about the relation between mind and body, self and society? To what extent does schizophrenia function as a means of calling attention to troubling circumstances in our social world? Alternatively, how does schizophrenia and its management operate as a form of social control? Finally, what do “treatment” and “recovery” from schizophrenia mean in contemporary contexts of restructuring of health care delivery systems? Throughout this course, we will engage these queries and questions from both local and global perspectives, and from the vantage points of the humanities and social sciences.
This course will be taught as a seminar, wherein all students are expected to participate in the co-creation of a shared community of inquiry and engagement. In order to achieve this, students are expected to complete required readings before class, and to prepare comments and questions for in-class discussion based on the assigned readings. The professors will at times offer comments to the class in a lecture or didactic style; however, much of class will be designed as a seminar-style discussion of readings and other course materials. Course materials will include a selection of chapters and articles, books, and videos, films, and other materials, to be engaged with throughout the term, both inside and outside of class. The professors will also coordinate a group guided visit to the Oregon State Hospital Museum for students. The class thus includes a good deal of work outside of class meeting time, including a research project conducted in pairs or small groups culminating in a final oral presentation and written paper.
Upper-division Elective courses allow students to choose (or “elect”) courses or faculty specific to their own developing interests, enabling them thereby to shape their own educational experience.
English Minor courses offer students centuries of cultural experience and representation in poetry, prose, drama, film, TV, new media, and folk artifacts. The English minor can focus and extend the values of a liberal arts education, while also providing extensive training in writing, speaking, and critical thinking.