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Literature and Mental Health: Reading for Wellbeing

The University of Warwick via FutureLearn

This course may be unavailable.



The great 18th century writer Dr Samuel Johnson, who suffered from severe bouts of depression, said “the only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life or better to endure it.”

Taking Johnson’s phrase as a starting point, this course considers how poems, plays and novels can help us understand and cope with times of deep emotional strain.

Along the way, you’ll hear from doctors, who offer a medical perspective, and from people who have turned to literature at moments of crisis, including such well-known figures as Melvyn Bragg, Mark Haddon, Sir Ian McKellen and Stephen Fry.

This course is open to anyone with an interest in literature or mental health. No previous experience or qualifications are required. The reading load will be flexible, and you will have the opportunity to exchange ideas and feelings via the online discussions with other learners.

Taught by

Jonathan Bate and Dr Paula Byrne


5.0 rating, based on 4 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Literature and Mental Health: Reading for Wellbeing

  • I'm enjoying very much this course. I find it inspirational for my work (I'm a counselor). My difficulties are only due to the fact that english is not my native tongue and I don't practice it often, but videos and transcript are very clear and well done; interviews with guests are always interesting. I've only preferred more contemporary or modern texts and poems, rather than classical ones, but it's just because of my reading preferences.
  • Millie B.

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