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2017/18 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL3439 States of Mind: Disability, Cognitive Impairment and Mental Health in Contemporary Culture

20 creditsClass Size: 40

School of English

Module manager: Professor Stuart Murray

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2017/18

Pre-requisite qualifications

Please note: this module is restricted to Level 3 students on BA programmes with English.

This module is not approved as a discovery module


On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. have a greater awareness of the representation of cognitive impairment and disability in contemporary fiction and film.
2. have a wider knowledge of the more general social ideas surrounding disability in the contemporary world.
3. operate as more subtle readers of current disability theory
4. practice more subtle critical reading skills.
5. operate as more sensitive readers of texts generally.
6. re-contextualise their knowledge of various literary genres in the light of the material they have covered.

Learning outcomes
Students will have developed:
- the ability to use written and oral communication effectively;
- the capacity to analyse and critically examine diverse forms of discourse;
- the ability to manage quantities of complex information in a structured and systematic way;
- the capacity for independent thought and judgement;
- critical reasoning;
- research skills, including the retrieval of information, the organisation of material and the evaluation of its importance;
- IT skills;
- efficient time management and organisation skills;
- the ability to learn independently.

Skills outcomes
- Skills for effective communication, oral and written.
- Capacity to analyse and critically examine diverse forms of discourse.
- Ability to acquire quantities of complex information of diverse kinds in a structured and systematic way.
- Capacity for independent thought and judgement.
- Critical reasoning.
- Research skills, including information retrieval skills, the organisation of material, and the evaluation of its importance.
- IT skills.
- Time management and organisational skills.
- Independent learning.


The disabled subject is often spoken and written of as being caught in a double bind: supposedly lacking in some essential capacity that denotes humanity, and yet also all too visibly and excessively human by virtue of an inherent difference. This module will examine a number of novels, films, life-writing narratives, web posts and blogs, dating from 1962 to 2013, which represent cognitive impairment as an example of such disability/exceptionality. It will specifically focus on mental health and neurobehavioral conditions – schizophrenia, Tourette’s syndrome, and autism – that have frequently been a source of fascination for both practitioners of art and contemporary culture more widely. In doing so, it will address a number of key issues – medical authority, personhood, gender, deficit v difference, sentimentality, genre and narrative form, and a concern to define ‘the human’ – that recur throughout the representation of mental impairment.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours185.00
Total Contact hours15.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

- Teaching will be through weekly seminars (10 x 1 hour) plus up to 5 additional hours (content to be determined by the module tutor).
- The 5 additional hours will include lectures, and return of unassessed/assessed essays.

Private Study: Reading, preparation for essays/seminars.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Seminar contribution.
- Feedback on 1st assessed essay.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2750 words66.70
Essay1750 words33.30
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 26/04/2017


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