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Special Topics- Asylums, Madness, and Mental Illness


This course uses the rise and fall of the asylum movement to examine shifting ideas about "mental illness" and its treatment, from the mid-19th century to the deinstitutionalization movement of the 1970s. Born of a utopian spirit dedicated to healing minds broken by the modern world, insane asylums devolved into "theaters of madness" where "lunatics" were stigmatized and warehoused. Race, gender, class, and sexuality shaped how mental illness has been conceptualized and treated over a pivotal century in American culture. Using sociological research and popular culture - such as films, novels, and television - we examine the asylum as a type of social control, and mid-20th century criticisms of asylums as "total institutions."

Fall 2019


Base cost: $1608 ($402/credit)
Term Fee: $47
Class Fee: $
Materials fee may apply. See SPIRE for details
  • Start date: September 3, 2019
  • End date: October 17, 2019
  • Last day to add: September 7, 2019
  • Last day to drop: September 7, 2019
  • Last day to withdraw: October 1, 2019
  • 100% through last day to add
  • 50% through last day to withdraw
  • 0% after last day to withdraw
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