Medicine and Literature in the 19th Century

Module code: EN3155

This interdisciplinary module will introduce students to a wide range of writings about medicine in the nineteenth century and encourage consideration of how contemporary medical developments fascinated writers from a variety of different genres.  As such, we will examine fictional and dramatic works by well-known 19th writers, such as Henrik Ibsen, but also author-medics, such as Anton Chekhov and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Alongside fictional representations of medicine, we will also look at developments in surgery and in technology, in the form of the X-ray.  Of central concern will be the representation of the doctor at a time of increasing professionalisation, fictional and non-fictional depictions of contemporary medical controversies, such as popular fears about contagion and infection (focusing upon two diseases that exorcised the Victorians -syphilis and tuberculosis), and the ways in which literature dealt with new medical and surgical technologies.  Visual representations will also be used to illuminate textual material.