Instructor: Ash T/R 12:30-1:50pm
Why are audiences not just repulsed but also attracted (even seduced by) depictions of the “dark side” of human behavior? How do we effectively explain the mind of a serial killer or a terrorist? Why are there marked correspondences between some felons and the detectives that hunt these criminals? How do we make sense of the phenomenon that victims of sexual abuse experience many of the same symptoms of trauma exhibited by shell-shocked soldiers in war? Questions like these are central to this course. We study cultural representations of mental pathology as well as psychological theories and descriptions of pathological personalities and states of mind. We closely consider (some of) the following: literary art by Edgar Allen Poe, R.L. Stevenson, Joseph Conrad, J.D. Salinger, Dorothy Allison; popular genre fiction such as detective, horror, and speculative fiction, i.e., works by Dashiell Hammett, Patricia Highsmith, Shirley Jackson, J.G. Ballard; films such as The Dark Knight, The Shining, Silence of the Lambs, Gone girl; and TV shows such as The Sopranos. We also read forensic descriptions of personality disorders and depth psychological studies of mental conflict, and try to apply these to the study of cultural texts.