Comparative Literature | Narratives of Madness
C313 | 14503 | M. Chaouli


3 cr
MTR 2:25 pm -4:45 pm
Fulfills A&H Distribution Credit

One of the defining features of the Enlightenment--perhaps the
defining feature--has been to ghettoize madness, both
philosophically and socially, to define madness as the absence of
reason and reason as the absence of madness. As the circularity of
this definition might suggest, the relationship of the two is never
quite settled,and reason (or, in most cases, Reason) lives with the
perpetual anxiety of harboring madness in its midst. We will see
that this anxious tension between the two is expressed most
powerfully in literary texts, not so much where madness becomes the
explicit theme but rather in the nooks and crannies of fictional
language itself. Here are some of the questions the course will
address: if madness can be represented at all, how and where does it
happen? does literature serve to contain folly in order to affirm
reason? or does its appeal, its force, lie in toying with madness,
in being toyed with by madness? Texts by Kleist, C.B. Brown, Sade,
Hoffmann, Poe, Dostoyewski, Nietzsche, Freud, Kafka, Foucault. All
readings and discussion in English.