Themes in Literature: Mental Illness in Literature ENGLSH 1160 Section 03 Semester Spring Year 2024 Hayli Cox Tuesday Thursday 2:00-3:15pm Course Description A World Full of Cages: Mental Illness in Literature "For those of us living with severe mental illness, the world is full of cages where we can be locked in." - Esmé Weijun Wang, The Collected Schizophrenias The past decade has brought a rapid increase in both diagnoses of and dialogue about mental illnesses. Yet, prejudice toward and shame imposed upon those who live with mental health conditions continues to proliferate, creating both harmful stigma and barriers to accessing resources. In this course we will delve into texts across genres and time, from Shakespeare’s Hamlet to Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted, considering questions such as: What does it mean to have a mental disorder, and who decides? How have various labels of mental illness worked to control and mark individuals? What can the literatures of mental illness reveal about the characters, the writers, and the societies in which they exist? And, finally, what can we do with this knowledge now?