ENG 495: Advanced Cultural Studies: Framing Madness
Description: From G. W. Pabst's The Secrets of a Soul (1926) to Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island (2010), film has long exhibited an interest in the startling juxtapositions and unsettling images inherent to representing mental illness. While such narratives rarely present medically accurate portrayals of mental illness, they often reflect dominant believes and popular misconceptions about that "thin red line" between sanity and madness. Drawing on scientific writing, critical theory, and filmic representations, this course will chart a theoretical history of mental illness and its cultural representations. While taking psychological and psychiatric writings into consideration, this course does not purport to present a scientific understanding of mental illness. Instead, we will view madness as cultural “artifact" in order to achieve a better understanding of society's shifting attitudes toward and understanding of mental illness. In addition to attending weekly film screenings and completing weekly quizzes, students will be expected to actively participate in class discussion and write three papers, including a close-reading essay, a bibliographic essay, and a research paper. The following films will be examined: Alice in Wonderland; Annie Hall; A Beautiful Mind; Love Crazy; The Deer Hunter; Donnie Darko; Girl, Interrupted; Home of the Brave; One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; Pi; Psycho; Secrets of a Soul; Shock Corridor; Shutter Island; The Snake Pit; The Thin Red Line; and The Three Faces of Eve.
For more information about this course, contact April Miller