Men, Women and Madness in Twentieth-Century Britain (HIH1517)

StaffDr Alison Haggett - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.50
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The aim of this module is to introduce you to gender as a concept in the history of medicine. With a focus on psychiatric disorders in twentieth-century Britain, you will explore the social, cultural and political forces that have resulted in gendered understandings of mental illness. You will engage with, and think critically about, a variety of documentary, statistical, visual and oral sources used in the history of medicine.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Evaluate the significance of gender in the history of mental illness.
  • 2. Critically consider the cultural forces that shape understandings of disease.
  • 3. Assess a range of sources used in the history of medicine.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Identify the problems of using historical sources, e.g. bias, reliability, etc., and to compare the validity of different types of source.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Answer a question briefly and concisely.
  • 6. Effectively present work orally, including the ability to respond to questions orally, and to think quickly of questions to ask other students.
  • 7. Work independently and within a group, including the presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning.
  • 8. Digest, select and organise primary source material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment.
  • 9. Work with others in a team and to interact effectively with the tutor and the wider group.
  • 10. Write to a very tight word-length.

Syllabus plan

Weekly seminar topics may vary, but can include:
  • An introductory session on gender and medical history.
  • Exploring psychiatric disorders prior to World War Two and the coming of the NHS.
  • Hysteria: photographic evidence.
  • Neurasthenia: captioned film War Neuroses (1918)
  • Suburban Neuroses: contemporary medical journals.
  • Exploring the advancing medicalisation of emotional distress from the 1950s' anxiety disorders and depressive states and their treatment.
  • Gender representation in statistical sources.
  • Classic feminist texts.
  • Contemporary medical texts.
  • Sources from the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Articles in the women's periodical press.
  • Oral history.
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: newspapers.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities22Seminars (2hrsx11wks)
Guided independent study128Independent study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group presentation (3-4 students)10-15 minutes1-4, 6-7, 9Oral
Lowest mark from portfolio of 5 source commentaries500 words1-5, 7-8, 10Mark and written comments

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
4 highest marks from portfolio of 5 source commentaries602000 words (500 per commentary) (15% per commentary)1-5, 7-8, 10Mark and written comments.
Essay on Sources401500 words1-5, 7-8, 10Mark and written comments.

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
4 highest marks of portfolio of 5 source commentaries4 highest marks of portfolio of 5 source commentaries1-5, 7-8, 10Referral/deferral period.
1500-word essay1500-word essay1-5, 7-8, 10Referral/deferral period.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Stuart Anderson (ed.), Making Medicines: A Brief History of Pharmacy and Pharmaceuticals (London, The Pharmaceutical Press, 2005)

John C Burnham, What is Medical History? (Oxford, Polity, 2005).

Joan Busfield, Men, Women and Madness (Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 1996).

Anne Digby, Gender, Health and Welfare (London, Routledge, 1996).

Helen Jones, Health and Society in Twentieth-Century Britain (London; New York, Longman, 1994).

Ludmilla Jordanova, 'The social construction of medical knowledge', Social History of Medicine (1995), 361-81.

Mark S Micale and Roy Porter (eds), Discovering the History of Psychiatry (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1994).

Dorothy Porter, 'The mission of the social history of medicine: an historical view', Social History of Medicine (1995), 345-59.

Edward Shorter, A History of Psychiatry (New York, John Wiley, 1997).

Elaine Showalter, Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture (London, Picador, 1997).

Elaine Showalter, The Female Malady: Women, Madness and English Culture, 1830-1980 (London, Virago, [1987], 2001).

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Key words search

Women, madness, history of medicine, psychiatry.