This undergraduate seminar offers historical and critical perspectives on music as a cause, symptom, and treatment of madness. We will begin by analyzing the stakes of studying the history of music and madness in light of methodologies from history, ethnography, and disability studies. We will then apply these frameworks to an investigation of selected topics in the histories of music and madness, as well as more recent ethnographies of the role of music in conjunction with altered mental states. In doing so, we will examine the interplay of embodied experience with respect to composed and improvised music as well as the soundscapes of religious rituals and trance states. The course is intended to foster interdisciplinary engagement between students interested in music, history, and medicine, and to provide them with critical tools to examine constructions of music and madness in social, scientific, and historical contexts. No musical background is necessary to participate.
Music and Madness
New for Spring 2018