Works of the Mind: Baudelaire, the Poet Proud to be Insane 5/7/2017

Sunday, May 7, 2017
1:00 PM
Chicago Cultural Center
78 E Washington St
Chicago, IL 60602

The lecture will center on a prose poem by Baudelaire, a work that that mentions two “alienists” — contemporaries of his. Alienists were early psychiatrists. The two mentioned in the poem argued (among other things) that Socrates, Pascal, and Joan of Arc were insane. Why does Baudelaire feel happy in his conviction that he too is insane? Among other things, the talk will include historical aspects of early psychiatry, descriptions of famous people dubbed “insane,” Baudelaire’s own situation, the self-help books (that Baudelaire is making fun of) popular after the revolution of 1848 in France, and the culture surrounding these issues.

Françoise Meltzer, Edward Carson Waller Distinguished Service Professor, Chair - Department of Comparative Literature, Professor in the Divinity School and the College, Co-editor of Critical Inquiry, the University of Chicago