Marvels, Monsters and Freaks 1780-1920 - HIST5075

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 5 30 (15) Julie Anderson checkmark-circle


Society has always been fascinated by those deemed different and over time, unusual people have been viewed and constructed in a myriad of ways. The course explores the continuities and changes surrounding those classed as different. Broadly, the course will investigate the changing nature of difference from the 1780s to the 1920s. It will examine the body and mind as contested sites; spaces occupied by those considered different; the establishment of normality versus deviance; the changing conceptions of difference over time; relationships between unusual people and the wider society. Using a broad range of sources, from novels to film, the course will trace the shifting cultural constructions of difference.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 30
Private study hours: 270
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Essay 1 (2,500 words) 30%
Essay 2 (2,500 words) 30%
Thematic Timed Essay (1,000 words) 20%
Seminar Participation 20%

Reassessment methods:
Reassessment Instrument: 100% coursework.

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices.
The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages (

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate a deeper historical understanding of the nature of cultural constructions of difference.
2. Demonstrate appreciation of the dynamics of the relationship between medical practitioners and unusual bodies.
3. Demonstrate the ability to navigate through a rich and complex historiography, and current controversies surrounding unusual people.
4. Utilize a wide range of primary materials including medical and scientific journals, contemporary accounts, illustrations, film, depictions and memoirs.
5. Engage with concepts pertinent to the remit of the programme, especially the body and mind as contested spaces; cultural constructions of the body in different historical periods; the relationship between difference and societal norms and institutionalisation and treatment regimes.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Synthesize different types of historical information effectively.
2. Reflect on their experience and identify future directions for research via teacher feedback.
3. Demonstrate effective communication skills using a variety of methods


  1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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