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Unit information: Literature and Medicine in 2021/22

Unit name Literature and Medicine
Unit code ENGL39011
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Lee
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit will explore the interrelation between medicine and literature across a range of literary genres and historical periods. Topics will include: representations of the body in literature; the complex interaction of literature and psychoanalysis; illness and the nature of artistic experience; the representation of doctors, medical practice and medical institutions in literary texts; nervous disorders and the novel of sensibility; Shakespeare and medicine; literary constructions of physical and mental illness; and illness as metaphor. Within this context, students will be encouraged to recognize the methodological difficulties of interdisciplinarity as well as its potential advantages.


The unit aims to familiarise students with a range of literary texts, from different genres and historical period, that will be read in relation to medicine, in its various representations.

Intended learning outcomes

Students will have acquired knowledge of:

  1. a range of literary texts, of different genres and from different periods.
  2. a range of critical texts that variously relate literature and medicine
  3. a range of issues raised by the literary representation of illness (physical and mental), medical theory and practice, etc., and historical changes in the understanding of medical conditions and of medicine itself.
  4. Students should have become, through reading, seminar discussion and essay writing, more self-aware and discerningly critical in their responses to literature and to medicine.

Teaching details

Teaching will involve asynchronous and synchronous elements, including group discussion, research and writing activities, and peer dialogue. Students are expected to engage with the reading and participate fully with the weekly tasks and topics. Learning will be further supported through the opportunity for individual consultation.

Assessment Details

  • 1 x 3500 word essay (100%) [ILOs 1-4]


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. ENGL39011).