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A Confusion of Tongues: Illness, Language, Writing


Module description

The aim of this module is to introduce you to key themes and issues that arise in twentieth- and twenty-first-century representations of illness in literary, visual and aural texts. Coming to a critical understanding of how to analyse these representations requires a conceptual vocabulary about language, writing, embodiment and medical practice which draws on contemporary work in the fields of medical humanities, medical education, psychoanalysis, cultural and critical theory and literary theory.

The emphasis of the module is on reading primary (literary, visual and aural) cultural texts, alongside secondary critical and theoretical texts. In this way, you will develop the ability to conceptualise the relations between illness, language and writing, at the same time as analysing representations of embodiment and illness. After the first half of the module in which central issues have been mapped, from Session 6 onwards you will be asked each week to supplement the weekly readings by supplying your own choices of primary cultural material through which to consider the issues raised.

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • articulate key concepts and theories in your critical analysis of these materials
  • deploy specific knowledge of certain central concepts in the fields of body studies, medical humanities, literary, cultural and critical studies
  • demonstrate general knowledge of twentieth- and twenty-first-century literary, visual and sound representations of illness, disease and subjectivity
  • demonstrate the ability to analyse the relations between the experience of illness, language and writing.