Loyola University Maryland


Self and Other Course Pairing

Mental Illness and Creativity: An Introduction to Psychology (PY 101)

This core social science course introduces students to the field of psychology, with a focus on the intersectionalities of gender, race, culture, and social class in understanding mental health and illness. Throughout history and across cultures, the labels of "madness", "mental illness", and "insane" have often been applied to women and men whose identities, emotions, and behaviors fall outside social norms. The seminar integrates psychological theories, concepts, and research, memoirs, literature, and film to understand how individuals and their communities understand and experience mental illness, health, and creativity. Through study of psychology, we will consider topics such as eugenics, gaslighting, personality theories, development, memory, trauma, and depression to help students make sense of the environmental-cultural-psychological-biological factors that may define, label, and disrupt human connections. Part of a Messina course pairing with Madness and Creativity in Modern Literature, the course provides students with a unique opportunity to study the foundational connections between psychology and literature. Like all psychology courses, the course will foster written and oral communication skills, application of psychological research and theories, and an understanding of the complexity of individual and societal diversity.

Faculty biography

Professor Amy Wolfson studied psychology as an undergraduate at Harvard University. Following college, she pursued her doctorate in Clinical Psychology with a focus on children and adolescents at Washington University in St. Louis. Her research focuses on children and adolescents' sleep-wake behaviors and emotional well-being. Prior to joining the psychology department at Loyola in 2014, she taught for 22 years at the College of the Holy Cross. Professor Wolfson enjoys mentoring and collaborating with students on research, such as her current work with youth residing in the juvenile justice system. She loves traveling, hiking, running, skiing, and being outdoors, particularly with her family, including her Black Russian Terrier!

Madness and Creativity in Modern Literature (EN 101)

This core course in English examines how “madness” is represented in selected works of literature and film from the late nineteenth century through the present. Throughout history and across cultures, the label of “madness” has often been applied to individuals whose identities, emotions, and behaviors fall outside social norms. Featuring classic literary works by influential American authors including Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night, Loraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, this course will explore the relation between creativity and mental illness. Through close examination of these texts, we will consider topics such as neurasthenia, gaslighting, depression, and trauma, to understand how cultural standards and expectations continue to shape definitions of mental health and illness. Part of a Messina course pairing with Mental Illness and Creativity: An Introduction to Psychology, the course provides students with a unique opportunity to study the foundational connections between literature and psychology. Like all core English courses, this one is writing intensive and will cultivate reading, writing, thinking, and oral communication skills that will help you succeed in all fields of study across the University, in your professional endeavors, and in life.

Faculty biography

Professor Melissa Girard is a faculty member in the department of English, where she teaches courses and conducts research in modern American literature and gender studies. She is currently at work on a book about women’s poetry in the 1920s. Originally from Pittsburgh, she has lived in Baltimore City since 2012 and loves everything about this wonderful city except for the Ravens.

Mentor biography

Heather Moore
I am a Loyola graduate, and the current Assistant Dean for Assessment and Data Management in the School of Education. This is my ninth year as a Messina Mentor. Over the years, I've enjoyed working with students in both the Stories we Tell and Self and Others themes. I grew up in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and have lived in Baltimore for the past 20 years I am married and have two sons in middle school. I enjoy participating in all that Baltimore has to offer and look forward to sharing my love of Baltimore with Messina students!


Virtual Advisor

EN 101 satisfies an English core requirement for all students. For students considering a major in the Sellinger School of Business, Psychology will count as an elective since Sellinger School of Business students will take Microeconomics Principles and Macroeconomic Principles as their two, core social science courses. Additionally, PY 101 would count as an elective for students considering a major in Global Studies or another social science (Sociology, Political Science, Economics).

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