Escaping ‘Horrible Sanity’: Teaching Victorian Literature and Psychology

Reblogged from the Journal of Victorian Culture Online. 

Some really interesting insights into undergraduate modules on literature and psychology, from the perspectives of teachers and students. 

MARCH 4 2014

By Serena Trowbridge, Birmingham City University

One of my favourite modules to teach is Literature and Psychology, a third-year module which focuses on Victorian literature and reads it in the light of contemporary psychological thought. It is popular with students, though many find it much further removed from their A-level Psychology than they anticipated! The students examine ideas about character formation in nineteenth-century poetry and prose, and place them in the context of philosophical and scientific descriptions of mental development during the period. The connections between nineteenth-century psychology and “pseudo-scientific” discourses such as phrenology and mesmerism also come under scrutiny, along with the close relationship between psychology and Victorian medical discourse. It is not an easy module, but it is one which seems to provide illumination and occasionally even entertainment to both myself and my students. Consequently, I asked final-year undergraduate student, Sophie Clarke, to give me her views on the module, as a student’s perspective can be revealing, and this is her contribution…

Visit JVC Online here to read the full post. 

Serena Birmingham City phrenology head


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