01:30 PM to 02:45 PM TR
Thompson Hall 2021
Section Information for Spring 2021
ENGH 336: British Novel of the Nineteenth Century
“Novel maladies: anxiety and depression in nineteenth-century British fiction”
How did mental disorders like anxiety and depression register in fiction before they had official diagnoses in the medical community? Characters who suffered from these separate but related disorders were called by a variety of terms: nervous, melancholic, hypchondriacal, splenetic, vaporous. Sometimes they were called nothing at all, and their illnesses registered as inchoate collections of symptoms: sleeplessness; isolation; “wasting”; paranoia; obsessive or intrusive thoughts. Not quite the madmen of Edgar Allen Poe’s imagination, these characters number among what we might call today the “worried well”: essentially functional and in touch with reality, but hampered by overwhelming sadness, loneliness, and chronic worry. This course will explore depictions in fiction of mental disorders that fall short of psychosis but that are or become driving forces—shaping characters’ behaviors, choices, and often driving or complicating the outcomes of their stories. Novels may include works by Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy.
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