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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

History (HIST)

HIST 103 (GH;IL) The History of Madness, Mental Illness, and Psychiatry (3) This course will examine the ideas that have shaped European and American perceptions of madness, insanity, and mental illness.

HIST 103 The History of Madness, Mental Illness, and Psychiatry (3)
(GH;IL)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.

This course will be an introduction to the modern history of "madness" in the Western world. In particular, we will examine the ideas that have shaped European and American perceptions of madness, insanity, and mental illness; the changing experiences of those afflicted; the development of those professions designed to look after those deemed mad, insane, and mentally ill; and the social and cultural assumptions behind treatments, policies, and public opinions. Our sources will include clinical case studies, memoirs of those living with mental illness, histories of psychiatric practice, and films. An example of the evaluation methods would be 3-4 written, in class exams, a 10-12 page research paper on a subject of choice, and class participation. The chief objectives of the course will be to confront head-on some of our most persistent assumptions about mental health and those with mental illnesses, evaluate how mental illness was understood and treated over the centuries, and become acquainted with the ways in which human biology, culture, society, and politics have reciprocally shaped one another in history.

The course can be effectively linked to several courses offered within the Department of History, including HIST 122 and 123 (History of Science I and II) and HIST 422 (European Thought Since 1870). In addition, it will fulfill requirements for both history majors and minors. The substance of the course emphasizes competence in the interpretive and critical understanding of the values, ideas, and experiences associated with mental disability over history and across cultures also means that it meets requirements for both General Education in the Humanities as well as Intercultural/International Competence. It is hoped that students across the human, social, and natural sciences will enroll in the course.


General Education: GH
Diversity: IL
Bachelor of Arts: Humanities
Effective: Summer 2005

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.

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