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Escaping 'Horrible Sanity': Teaching Victorian Literature and Psychology

Escaping 'Horrible Sanity': Teaching Victorian Literature and Psychology | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
blogs.tandf.co.uk - lucinda matthews-jones.

By Serena Trowbridge, Birmingham City University

 

One of my favourite modules to teach is Literature and Psychology, a third-year module which focuses on Victorian literature and reads it in the light of contemporary psychological thought. It is popular with students, though many find it much further removed from their A-level Psychology than they anticipated! The students examine ideas about character formation in nineteenth-century poetry and prose, and place them in the context of philosophical and scientific descriptions of mental development during the period. The connections between nineteenth-century psychology and “pseudo-scientific” discourses such as phrenology and mesmerism also come under scrutiny, along with the close relationship between psychology and Victorian medical discourse. It is not an easy module, but it is one which seems to provide illumination and occasionally even entertainment to both myself and my students. Consequently, I asked final-year undergraduate student, Sophie Clarke, to give me her views on the module, as a student’s perspective can be revealing, and this is her contribution:

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Paula Hawkins’s Journey to ‘The Girl on the Train’

Paula Hawkins’s Journey to ‘The Girl on the Train’ | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
“The Girl on the Train” may have benefited from a wave of popular and unconventional suspense novels that have eroded the already thin boundary between literary fiction and thrillers. Ms. Hawkins joins the ranks of a new generation of female suspense novelists — writers like Megan Abbott, Tana French, Harriet Lane and Gillian Flynn — who are redefining contemporary crime fiction with character-driven narratives that defy genre conventions. Their novels dig into social issues, feature complex women who aren’t purely victims or vixens, and create suspense with subtle psychological developments and shifts in relationships instead of procedural plot points and car chases.
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Why popular culture is mad for medical fiction

Why popular culture is mad for medical fiction | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

Critics have suggested, as Ann Jurecic notes that this interest in illness is, like the “misery memoir”, another fashion. Illness is this decade’s hot literary topic, or an academic fad. But I would disagree. When the Wellcome Trust, the foremost funding body in the history of medicine, hosts a series of public exhibitions and their own book prize, I think it’s clear that this is a trend which is well entrenched in the public sphere.

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'Female Husbands' In The 19th Century - KPBS

'Female Husbands' In The 19th Century - KPBS | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

Stories of women dressing and posing as men dot the journalistic landscape of 19th century America — and Great Britain — according to Sarah Nicolazzo, who teaches literary history at the University of California, San Diego.

. . .

"This genre of narrative was already a popular one by the beginning of the 19th century," Nicolazzo says. "Readers of newspapers, novels, pamphlets and other print forms clearly found this kind of story compelling and there was a long history of demand for it."

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From Gatsby to Darcy: the top 10 liars in fiction

From Gatsby to Darcy: the top 10 liars in fiction | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Nick Lake, author of There Will be Lies, selects his favourite fictional tricksters and tellers of untruths in books
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A Photographer's Response to the Lack of Women in Our Literary Canon - Slate Magazine (blog)

A Photographer's Response to the Lack of Women in Our Literary Canon - Slate Magazine (blog) | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

One might almost feel the need to whisper while talking about Carrie Schneider’s portraits of women reading, but, to Schneider, the inspiration behind the photographs is something worth screaming about.

Throughout her life, Schneider has been keenly aware of the lack of women represented in the canonization of art and literature, a point raised in Linda Nochlin’s 1971 historical text “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” Motivated by that work, as well as through discussions with friends and colleagues and a criticism published on Slate about lopsided coverage of major book reviews, Schneider wanted to work on a series that spoke to this discrepancy.

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On War and Fiction: Movies Like American Sniper Provide Our 'Facts' and Understanding of Our Wars - City Watch

On War and Fiction: Movies Like American Sniper Provide Our 'Facts' and Understanding of Our Wars - City Watch | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

The power that fiction holds in influencing viewer’s real-world decisions is one that should not be taken lightly when concerning issues of war—especially at a point in U.S. history when Americans feel increasingly vulnerable to international threats.

 

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13 Life Lessons On Being A Total Boss From Literary Anti-Heroines - Bustle

Bustle
13 Life Lessons On Being A Total Boss From Literary Anti-Heroines

 

When I need some encouragement to be a better self-advocate, or maybe just a little inspiration to stand my ground, I look to my favorite anti-heroines for a bit of backbone. Even if I don’t always always exactly agree with their methods or motivations, I admire the way these literary ladies get the job done. Bold, brilliant, and usually a bit manipulative, they rely on their brains to get by. They’re also the characters who are often ostracized and shunned for refusing to abide by the rules or bend to convention. In other words, these literary anti-heroines are true to themselves above all others. 

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The Old Manse: crossroads of political, literary history - Wicked Local Middleton

CONCORD - Stepping into the Old Manse, visitors arrive at one of the crossroads of local history, a house where political, literary and social revolutions occurred, changing the way Americans live today.


Built in 1770 by a local minister, the three-story Georgian clapboard house still bears the imprints of literary luminaries Nathaniel Hawthorne and Ralph Waldo Emerson who lived there, writing articles that still shape how we view our New England past and the natural world.

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15 Things Only Contemporary Literature Lovers Know, Other Than The Fact That Rules Don't Matter - Bustle

Bustle
15 Things Only Contemporary Literature Lovers Know, Other Than The Fact That ...
Bustle
I was a latecomer when it came to loving contemporary literature.
And then, in a graduate creative writing class, a fellow student introduced me to Lorrie Moore. Boom. Doors flew open. Her story “Two Boys” — which deals with sex, gender roles, depression, and melancholy — was like nothing I’d read before. Her mix of breathtaking poetic language and a conversational tone were raw and accessible. The intelligent, self-aware protagonist helped me find liberation from the dead white guys of my past. Suddenly, I felt as if writing was something I could do, as if my opinion mattered.
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A Tourist In One's Own Country: An interview With Simon Sylvester - The Quietus

A Tourist In One's Own Country: An interview With Simon Sylvester - The Quietus | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
It would be hard to resent Simon Sylvester, an affable thirty-four year old who seems almost apologetic that his first novel won the prestigious 2014 Guardian Not the Booker prize. Besides being an edgy supernatural “whatdunnit” about mysterious disappearances on a remote Scottish island, The Visitors is also a meditation on myth, storytelling, growing up, the misery of love, and the act of writing itself – weaving folklore tales about the siren-like “selkies” (seal-people) that ensnare human souls with a nuanced Bildungsroman.
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Experts examine bones as Spain hunts for Cervantes' remains

Experts examine bones as Spain hunts for Cervantes' remains | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Forensic experts began excavating graves and examining bones Saturday in a tiny chapel in Madrid, hoping to solve the centuries-old mystery of exactly where the great Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes was laid to rest.

The author of "Don Quixote" was buried in 1616 at the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in Madrid's historic Barrio de las Letras, or Literary Quarter, but the exact whereabouts of his grave within the convent chapel are unknown.
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Canadian Literature Bingo

Canadian Literature Bingo | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Suggestions for filling your Canadian Literature bingo card.

Via Sharon Bakar
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Sharon Bakar's curator insight, January 25, 8:58 PM

A fun way to read more Canadian fiction, with some nice reading pathway suggestions for greats such as Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood.

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11 Wonderfully Quirky Books for Readers Who Like Their Lit A Little Out Of The ... - Bustle

Bustle

 

Lucky for you, Miranda July isn’t the only author breaking the conventional narrative mould in favor of more daring storytelling. From an epic quest to move a couch to a riveting novel about boredom, these books all have one thing in common: they’re slightly off-kilter in the best possible way. Whether this describes you, too, or you just like to give your sanity a night off once in a while, curl up with one of these quirky reads for a guaranteed good time.

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Seattle City of Literature will have center on First Hill - CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

Seattle City of Literature will have center on First Hill - CHS Capitol Hill Seattle | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Seattle's quest to become an International "City of Literature" will have a home on First Hill. The Sorrento Hotel announced Wednesday that a new "book-filled conference room at the hotel, where re...
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Genre Apocalypse - Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription)

Genre Apocalypse - Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription) | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
When literary categories collide, where does that leave readers?

 

During the second half of the 20th century, the literary universe was a simple binary: good/bad, highbrow/lowbrow, serious/escapist, literature/pulp. Like Bohr’s atomic solar system, that model has lost its descriptive accuracy. We’ve hit a critical mass of literary data that don’t fit the old dichotomies. Margaret Atwood, Michael Chabon, and Jonathan Lethem are among the most obvious paradigm disruptors, but the list of literary/genre writers keeps expanding. A New Yorker editor, Joshua Rothman, recently added Emily St. John Mandel to the list: Her postapocalyptic novel Station Eleven is a National Book Award finalist—further evidence, Rothman writes, of the "genre apocalypse."

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Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia booklist | Reading Agency

Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia booklist | Reading Agency | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

 we launch the latest Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme, to support people with dementia and their carers. The new scheme builds on the existing Reading Well Books on Prescription programme, which already helps over 275,000 people with common mental health conditions feel better through self-help reading.

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The 50 Best First Sentences in Fiction

The 50 Best First Sentences in Fiction | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

There are thousands of classic opening lines in fiction—A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison come to mind—but often the most well-known are not always the best. First sentences, of course, have different functions—to amuse, to frighten, to mystify—and the mechanics a writer uses to achieve this connection vary from genre to genre. In looking for the best opening lines, we took all of this into consideration. What follows are the 50 best. These are the sentences that say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.

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Murder most British: Why the fascination? - Christian Science Monitor

Murder most British: Why the fascination? - Christian Science Monitor | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

How did the British population become so fascinated by untimely deaths? Lucy Worsley, chief curator for several of the Britain’s top attractions, including the Tower of London, has some answers. She explores the question in her new fascinating, morbid, and eerily enjoyable book The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock.

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Tom Eliot — a very practical cat. Did TS Eliot simply recycle every personal ... - Spectator.co.uk

Tom Eliot — a very practical cat. Did TS Eliot simply recycle every personal ... - Spectator.co.uk | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

Reviewing Robert Crawford’s Young Eliot, Daniel Swift suspects that the poet’s genius has been over-explained and over-simplified

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Helen Macdonald: the six books that made me

H Is for Hawk, which has won the Costa book of the year, portrays a writer in urgent dialogue with the natural world. Which were the books that opened her eyes to nature?
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Amatesiro Dore: Why Nigeria has not produced a writer worth reading since 1960

Amatesiro Dore: Why Nigeria has not produced a writer worth reading since 1960 | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
by Amatesiro Dore

 

On the mountaintop I discovered that writers are not born and writing is not a talent. It is a chore undertaken by choice. I am a writer because I read literature, learn techniques, hone my voice, develop literary skills by re-writing drafts, sit and never leave the room until the work is done. Where we set our stories or mould our characters does not make the writer. We need to stop promoting places that can’t produce writers and shame them for what they are—the heart of darkness.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

An impassioned plea from someone describing a situation most of us probably can't even imagine.

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Does Fiction Need to Become Less ... Fictional? - Newsweek

Newsweek
Does Fiction Need to Become Less ... Fictional?
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Lots on the literary horizon for spring - Philly.com

Lots on the literary horizon for spring - Philly.com | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
They say the book is declining. But reading isn't. And anyone who loves reading is going to have a really good time this spring. From the Mafia to the Wright Brothers, from punk rock to Alfred Hitchcock to hawks to the cosmos, nonfiction offerings in the next six months will satisfy any hungry mind. And the season's imaginative fiction just teems, with great mysteries, Gothic novels, and new work from Toni Morrison, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Jane Smiley.
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Eye on Fiction - Where the wild things are | The Psychologist

Eye on Fiction - Where the wild things are | The Psychologist | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

According to the writer Francis Spufford, Where the Wild Things Are is ‘one of the very few picture books to make an entirely deliberate, and beautiful, use of the psychoanalytic story of anger’ (Spufford, 2003, p.60). For me, this book and Maurice Sendak’s other works are fascinating studies of intense emotions – disappointment, fury, even cannibalistic rage – and their transformation through creative activity. 

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Broadchurch is not alone in getting people's jobs wrong - Telegraph.co.uk

Broadchurch is not alone in getting people's jobs wrong - Telegraph.co.uk | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Screen errors are endless when it comes to doctors, nurses, lawyers, forensic scientists – even women’s handbags
Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

OK, so it's not exactly about literature. But don't you sometimes fume when a character on TV or in the movies does or says something that is obviously incorrect for the context? I know I do.

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