Fall 2013

The Literature of Madness

Listed in: English, as ENGL-311

Formerly listed as: ENGL-53


Dale E. Peterson (Section 01)


A specialized study of a peculiar kind of literary experiment--the attempt to create, in verse or prose, the sustained illusion of insane utterance. Readings will include soliloquies, dramatic monologues and extended “confessional” narratives by classic and contemporary authors, from Shakespeare and Browning, Poe and Dostoevsky to writers like Nabokov, Beckett, or Sylvia Plath. We shall seek to understand the various impulses and special effects which might lead an author to adopt an “abnormal” voice and to experiment with a “mad monologue.” The class will occasionally consult clinical and cultural hypotheses which seek to account for the behaviors enacted in certain literary texts. Three class hours per week.

Requisite:  Several previous courses in literature and/or psychology.  Open to juniors and seniors and to sophomores with consent of the instructor.  Fall semester.  Professor Peterson.


2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2011, Fall 2013, Fall 2022