Department of English and Literature
Utah Valley State College
Engl 486R: Topics in Literature
Literature and Madness
TTH 4-5:15 pm
Professor Christa Albrecht-Crane, Ph.D.
Office: LA 126F
Office Hours: TR 1-2 and half an hour after each class
This course focuses
on the intersections of madness and the literary. The central questions
that will occupy us in this course might be formulated as follows: in
what way does madness account for the thing called literature? Why
madness? Why don't we generally speak of the "reason" of the text? Why
does reason always seem to contain, or evoke, its opposite, madness?
propel us to
ask, with Shoshana Felman in her 1978 book, Writing and Madness
(Palo Alto: Stanford U Press, 2003), what we are finally looking for:
Felman asks, "what is at issue here, texts abut madness or the
very madness of the text?" In other words, do we look at texts
written by or about mad characters or narrators, or do we in the end question the
sanity of any text, any utterance? Perhaps, this course
might suggest that literature would not be possible without a degree of
madness--a madness that forms the limit and condition of
creativity. Madness as thinking otherwise--as stretching texts,
The Brazilian scholar
Peter Pal Pelbart (whose essay we will be reading this semester)
suggests, in a wonderfully inspiring way, that we find in a dialogue
with madness "the opening of a desert, the forgetting mobility, the
errant connectivity, the multidirectional proliferation, the absence of
center, of subject, of object--a topology and a chronology which are
hallucinatory enough." So, Pelbart suggests that the craziness of
literature--the mad characters of Edgar Allan Poe, or Melville, or
Kafka--might invite readers into other possible worlds that invoke new
connections and unheard of resistances. This course will approach these
provocative issues through the analysis of a variety of texts ranging
from fiction and movies to philosophical essays.
The course is very
reading-intensive and will require sustained and serious study of
various texts. This is an advanced level class, and the readings are
very difficult and complex. Also, students are required to watch two
full-length, R-rated movies outside of class; edited versions of these
movies may not be substituted.
Books (UVSC bookstore or on-line;
please get these exact same editions):
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari.
Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature.
Trans. Dana Polan. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota Press, 1986. ISBN
Michel Foucault. Madness and
Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason.
Trans. Richard Howard. New York: Vintage Books, 1965. ISBN
Franz Kafka. The
Metamorphosis (1915). A Norton Critical Edition.
Trans. and ed. Stanley Corngold. New York: Norton & Co, 1996. ISBN:
Kaysen. Girl, Interrupted.
New York: Random House, 1994. ISBN
Articles (pdf files
of all these articles can be found under "calendar" on this website):
Robert J. "The 'Schizophrenic' and the Liminal Persona in Modern
Society." Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry
22 (1998): 465-494.
Roland. From Writing Degree Zero.
1953. Trans. Annette Lavers and Colin Smith. New York: Hill and
Maurice. "Encountering the Imaginary," and "The Book to Come."
The Book to Come. 1959.
Trans. Charlotte Mandell. Stanford: Stanford U Press, 2003.
Maurice. "Forgetting, Unreason." The Infinite Conversation.
1969. Trans. Susan Hanson. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota Press, 1993.
Gilles Deleuze. "Bartleby; Or, The
Formula." Essays Critical and Clinical.
Trans. Daniel W. Smith and Michael A. Greco. Minneapolis: U
of Minnesota Press, 1997. 68-90.
Deleuze, "Schizophrenia and Society." Two Regimes of Madness:
Texts and Interviews 1975-1995.
Trans. Ames Hodges and Mike Taormina. New York: Semiotext(e), 2006.
"Madness and Society." Michel Foucault: Aesthetics, Method, and
Epistemology. Ed. James D. Faubion. New York: The New Press,
Melville, Herman. "Bartleby,
the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street." <http://www.bartleby.com/129/>.
Miller, J. Hillis.
"The Secret of Literature." What Is Literature? New York:
Oxford U Press, 2002. 46-80.
Pal. "The Thought of the Outside, the Outside of Thought."
Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities 5.2 (2000):
Rubin, Lawrence C.
"Merchandising Madness: Pills, Promises, and Better Living Through
Chemistry." The Journal of Popular Culture 38.2 (2004):
"Preface," and "The Case of the Colorblind Painter." An
Anthropologist on Mars. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1995.
"True Love." National Geographic 209. 2 (2006): 32-49.
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