The University of Newcastle, Australia
Not currently offered
Course code



10 units


3000 level

Course handbook


A comparative examination of social conceptions of, and responses to, madness; across cultures and history. The course is oriented to the sociological and anthropological idea that the concept of 'mental illness' is itself fairly recent in Western history, and many other societies do not share it. We will contextualise the idea of madness relative to myth, history, science, religion and culture.


Not currently offered.

This Course was last offered in Semester 1 - 2015.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. An understanding of sociological and anthropological theories of non-normal behaviour across cultures.

2. The ability to critically analyse theoretical and empirical contributions to the understanding of the place of madness in society.

3. The ability to apply relevant analytic models to contemporary issues.

4. Competence in scholarship, essay construction and academic argument appropriate to graduation at Bachelor level.


  • A critical historical examination of the conception, interpretation of, and reaction to madness in Western society from classical times to the present.
  • An examination of madness in some 'traditional' (non-western) societies, in the context of social relations and local cosmology.
  • An examination of the impact of Western psychiatric conceptions of madness on some non-western societies.

Assumed knowledge

40 units of study at 1000 level.

Assessment items

Written Assignment: Essays/Written Assignments

Online Learning Activity: Online Assessments

Presentation: Class Presentation and Poster