Health, Mind and Body (HIST*4200) | College of Arts

Health, Mind and Body (HIST*4200)

Code and section: HIST*4200*01

Term: Fall 2018

Instructor: Tara Abraham


Course Synopsis:

This course examines the historical dimensions of scientific and medical efforts to understand the relations between mind, brain, and body, from the late nineteenth century to the present. Focusing on the American context, we will examine the institutional dimensions of attempts to both understand and treat individuals suffering from mental illness and neurological disorders. In relation to this, we will also explore attempts to make sense of the brain and its function as a locus of behaviour, affect, and mental state. We will approach our subject from the perspective of several historical actors, including scientists, clinicians, patients, and critics. Wherever possible, we will pay attention to the effects of social and cultural context on how individual minds and brains been constructed, explained, and treated.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this seminar course, you should be able to:
1.    Discuss and analyse various approaches to madness and mental illness since the 19th century;
2.    Understand the status of psychiatry as a medical specialty and how and why its status has changed over time;
3.    Critically evaluate and discuss scholarly work in the history of medicine and other relevant scholarly fields, through the process of seminar presentations and discussions;
4.    Effectively use both primary and secondary historical sources in making an historical argument and presenting that argument clearly in written form;
5.    Develop skills in oral presentation of research and the process of scholarly inquiry;
6.    Collaborate with peers in giving and receiving critical feedback on research and written work.

Methods of Evaluation and Weights:

20% Seminar Presentations (2 x 10% each)
10% Research Proposal and Annotated Bibliography
10% Research Presentation
 5% Peer Review
35% Research Essay
20% Seminar Participation

Required Readings:

A set of online readings available through Ares.


Please note: This is a preliminary website description only. The department reserves the right to change without notice any information in this description. The final, binding course outline will be distributed in the first class of the semester.