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Our thanks to the Arts and Humanities Research Council for funding the Madness and Literature Network. Each year the AHRC provides funding from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from archaeology and English literature to design and dance. The range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. Further information on the AHRC is available on their website.

This project builds on a current project with The Leverhulme Trust on the representation of madness in post-war British and American Fiction. Membership to the Madness and Literature Network is free - Please register under ‘New User Registration’. Benefits of membership include the possibility of attending our invitation-only seminars, being kept fully informed of developments in the broad field of Health Humanities here at Nottingham, and the opportunity to submit fully peer-reviewed book reviews to our database, which will be accredited to the submitting reviewer.

Please note, you are welcome to use these resources and the website for teaching or other purposes, however please do drop us a line and let us know how you are finding the site, or any suggestions you may have for improvements. Paul Crawford. Thank you.

Bibliography of First-Person Narratives of Madness in English (5th edition)

The 5th edition of the Bibliography of First-Person Narratives of Madness in English is available for download (PDF)

1st International Health Humanities Conference: Madness and Literature was held at Nottingham 6th - 8th August 2010

1st International Health Humanities Conference: Madness and Literature was held at Nottingham 6th - 8th August 2010. See 'Seminars and Conference' for further details.

1st International Health Humanities Conference: Madness and Literature - Conference Programme

Revealing Read

One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest

By Ken Kesey


Ken Kesey’s novel is an iconic, classic text on madness and psychiatric institutions in the USA.  Its popularity was vastly increased when it was made into a film in 1975 starring Jack Nicholson.  It has grossly influenced the public’s view of psychiatric inpatient care from its publication in 1962, and continues to do so. The novel is narrated by ‘Chief’ Bromden, an American Indian who is electively mute and thus, as the staff assume, stupid.  In fact, Bromden is insightful and perceives the power abuses around him with an acute eye.  Notions of good and evil are both blurred and maintained within the same novel – through the characters of Randle McMurphy and Nurse Ratched.  McMurphy, feigning elements of psychopathy in order to evade prison duties, both liberates and paradoxically abuses patients in similar power-driven ways as the staff themselves.  Nurse Ratched, on the other hand, rules the ward with a rod of iron, controlling through fear not only the patients but the doctors themselves with a chillingly superficial benevolent manner.  Fortunately, jailors masquerading as nurses are becoming rarer as treatment attitudes towards patients with mental illness grow ever more sympathetic.  With psychosurgery now rare and ECT, whilst still controversial, more refined than in the 1960’s, this element of the text stands as a testimony to the well-intentioned but at times horrific history of psychiatry.  The image of a brain damaged McMurphy being wheeled back on to the ward following a lobotomy – performed not because of acute and enduring mental illness but because of defiance against the psychiatric system and the abusive staff within it – is one that sticks in the mind long after the text is finished.   

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The School of English Studies
in collaboration with the Schools of Nursing and Sociology and Social Policy

MA in Health Communication
(by web-based distance learning)

Meeting the challenges of communication - The MA programme in Health Communication provides a unique opportunity to investigate language and communication in various health care contexts. The course gives students a thorough grounding in the concepts, theories and research methods used in this area.

MA in Health Communication PDF Leaflet


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