Continuing Education

University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto

Spring 2007, Tu 1-3 pm

Instructor: Svitlana Kobets, PhD, LMS

 

Course Description

 

Madness and Civilization: Folly and Lunacy in World Literature and Film

 

Some of the most celebrated works of literature and art offer intriguing and captivating musings on the topic of madness and folly. Shakespeare and Dostoevsky, Euripides and Kesey offer insights into the abyss of madness and ecstasy of folly, raising time and again burning questions pertaining to our civilization, ethics, and selfhood. “Why are some people rejected by society and labeled “mad”? What is wrong with them? What is madness?” In this course we will contemplate these questions as we undertake a comparative study of socio-religious conceptualizations of madness and folly in several cultural traditions. Our objective will be twofold: to trace the history of conceptualizations of madness, deviation and folly in select ancient and modern cultures and at the same time to analyze several key works of world literature and film devoted to the subject of madness and folly.

                                   

 

READINGS and FILMS

Old Testament: Kings I, II, Isaiah, Ezekiel 

Euripides “Bacchae”

New Testament: Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, selections from the Gospels

Lives of select saints (St. Serapion, St. Simeon the Fool)

Franco Zeffirelli, “Brother Sun Sister Moon” (film)

Shakespeare, “King Lear”

Michael Foucault, “Birth of the Asylum”

Dostoevsky, “The Idiot”

Chekhov’s “Ward #6”

Ken Kesey, “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

Milos Forman, “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

Mikhalkov-Konchalovskii, “House of Fools” (film)

 

Goals: Developing close reading skills in a variety of genres from ancient, medieval, and modern literary & cinematic traditions

 

Syllabus

 

1. Introductory lecture: Madness in the Old Testament

overview of the Old Testament prophetic tradition;

notions of wisdom and Folly in Old Testament tradition

Texts: Old Testament: Kings I, II, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel

 

2. New Testament: St. Paul’s The First Epistle to the Corinthians, selections from the Gospels

 

3. Hellenistic Culture:

Socrates—the archetypal wise fool

Madness in Ancient Greece

Discussion of Euripides’ “Bacchae”

 

4. Lives of select saints

Egyptian Desert tradition: Palladius’ Life of Serapion,

St. Simeon the Fool of Emesa by Leontius

Franco Zeffirelli, “Brother Sun Sister Moon” (film)

 

5. Shakespeare, “King Lear”

 

6. Michael Foucault, “Birth of the Asylum”

 

7. Dostoevsky, “The Idiot”

 

8. Dostoevsky, “The Idiot”

 

9. Dostoevsky, “The Idiot”

 

10. Chekhov’s “Ward #6”

 

11. Ken Kesey, “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (film)

 

12. Mikhalkov-Konchalovskii, “House of Fools” (film)

 

 

 

 
© 2017 by Svitlana Kobets. All right reserved.