GSFS 0242

Critical Conditions

Critical Conditions: Gender, Literature, and Illness (Pre-1800)
In this course we will explore the literary representation of illness and pain in a range of texts from the classical period to the present day, focusing in particular on the intersection of illness with questions of gender, race, and sexuality. Beginning with Sophocles’s tragedy Women of Trachis, we will explore the classical representation of acute pain in the context of early Greek medicine, before examining medieval and early modern literary works inspired by the Black Death, including selections from Boccaccio’s Decameron. The second half of the class will focus on modernist and contemporary accounts of illness, including Virginia Woolf’s treatment of both the 1918 influenza epidemic and so-called “shell-shock” in her novel Mrs Dalloway. We will intersperse our literary readings with theoretical explorations of cure, disability, and ableism by writers such as Eli Clare, as well as work from the emerging field of narrative medicine. 3 hrs. lect.
Gender Sexuality &Fem. Studies
PrgGender/Sexuality/Fem. Study
Requirements Fulfilled:
Equivalent Courses:
ENGL 0242 *
WAGS 0105
ENAM 0242
WAGS 0242


Fall 2023

GSFS0242A-F23 Lecture

Fall 2022

GSFS0242A-F22 Lecture (Wells)

Fall 2021

GSFS0242A-F21 Lecture (Wells)