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The University of Southampton

ENGL3095 Medicine and Modernity: The Science and Literature of Life in the C19th

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • 1.1 To explore the formations of modern disciplines in medicine and the life sciences as they are facilitated and disclosed by literary texts and methods. 1.2 To reach understandings of the ways that the arts and sciences interact in the formation of modernity in the nineteenth century. 1.3 To consider the legacies for our current cultures of such nineteenth-century aesthetic and scientific formations as 'Life,' medicine, biology, as they are propagated by literary texts of the time.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • 2.1 To develop enhanced capacities for close and independent reading of a range of literary texts, including poetry, prose fiction and literary-scientific texts. 2.2 To develop capacities for historicising ideas and aesthetic styles in literature 2.3 To appreciate ways in which disciplinary discourses are formed and draw upon each other and apart from one another.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • 3.1 To acquire capacities to move between and across literary and scientific discourses and concepts, and to be able to historicise them and their relations to one another. 3.2 To develop generic capacities for independent research 3.3 To develop generic capacities for organising and presenting academic arguments in the essay form. 3.4 To develop generic skills in written communication


This module begins with the romantic science and literature, by focusing upon literary and scientific circles, principally around S. T. Coleridge in Bristol and Edward Jenner in Berkley, Gloucestershire around the turn of the century, and then the Keats, Byron, Shelley circle in the 1810s. This part of the module establishes the nature of the new science and literature of Life through such concepts as galvanism, pneumatic medicine, the medical imagination, vaccination, and quackery and scientific method. It discusses the rise of biology and scientific medicine at this time and across the century through literary texts by Keats and other medical students, doctors, scientists and canonical writers, such as Tennyson and Lear. In doing so it will focus upon the literary constructions of some of the most prevalent diseases of the nineteenth century, such as small pox, consumption, syphilis and malaria. Physiological reductionism, Darwinism, and post-Darwinian sexual pathologies are similarly discussed through literary texts, while conversely medical pathologies of poets and artists are also explored, culminating in the fin-de-siecle literary and cultural discourses of degeneration, syphilis, hysteria, contagion, sexual perversion and atavistic regression.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

1 x 1 hour lecture 1 x 1 hour seminar This module includes a Learning Support Hour. This is a flexible weekly contact hour, designed to support and respond to the particular cohort taking the module from year to year. This hour will include (but not be limited to) activities such as language, theory and research skills classes; group work supervisions; assignment preparation and essay writing guidance; assignment consultations; feedback and feed-forward sessions.

Independent Study116
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Daniel Brown (2018). Module Reader. 



Draft essay


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 60%
Essay 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

While most texts will be available in a module reader, this module may require the purchase of one or two paperback texts.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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