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

StaffDr Alison Haggett - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.50
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The aim of this module is to introduce students to gender as a concept in the history of medicine. With a focus on psychiatric disorders in twentieth-century Britain, students will explore the social, cultural and political forces that have resulted in gendered understandings of mental illness. They 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. The ability to evaluate the significance of gender in the history of mental illness.
  • 2. Critical thought about the cultural forces that shape understandings of disease.
  • 3. The capacity to assess a range of sources used in the history of medicine.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. An ability to 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. A capacity to answer a question briefly and concisely.
  • 6. Effective presentation of work orally, including the ability to respond to questions orally, and to think quickly of questions to ask other students.
  • 7. Independent study and group work, including the presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning.
  • 8. Techniques of digesting, selecting and organising primary source material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment.
  • 9. The ability to work with others in a team and to interact effectively with the tutor and the wider group
  • 10. The capacity to write to a very tight word-length.

Syllabus plan

Following an introductory session on gender and medical history, the subsequent three sessions will explore psychiatric disorders prior to World War Two and the coming of the NHS: Week 1 ' Introduction. Week 2 ' Hysteria: photographic evidence. Week 3 ' Neurasthenia: captioned film War Neuroses (1918). Week 4 ' Suburban Neuroses: contemporary medical journals. The remaining sessions will explore the advancing medicalisation of emotional distress from the 1950s ' anxiety disorders and depressive states and their treatment: Week 5 ' Gender representation in statistical sources. Week 6 ' Classic feminist texts. Week 7 ' Contemporary medical texts. Week 8 ' Sources from the pharmaceutical industry. Week 9 ' Articles in the women's periodical press. Week 10 ' Oral history. Week 11 ' Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: newspapers. Course conclusion.

The aim of this module is to get students to work with primary sources: 'The first class will take the form of a mini-lecture explaining the basic outlines of the subject, providing a framework into which they can then fit the sources they will be studying, as well as explaining the format that the remaining classes will take. 'In subsequent weeks, the class will have been told, in advance, to prepare an answer in 400-500 words to a question relating to the set texts. 'Students will be divided into groups. In the class, one member of one group will present their answer to the question; the remaining members of the group will add in anything they think has been missed or which needs amplification. 'The rest of the students will then subdivide into their own groups to determine a question to ask the presenting group. These questions will then be asked and answered, with discussion being allowed to develop on key points. 'In the light of the discussion and the tutor's comments, the students will then self-assess their own work according to a pro-forma, which will then be collected by the tutor for moderation. 'Finally, the class will end with the tutor outlining the work to be done for the following week's class.

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

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
A portfolio of seven assignments77400 to 500 words1-10mark and written comments
Essay231000 words1-10mark 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

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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