The Case Study: Crime, Medicine, and Modern Society

What does Sherlock Holmes have in common with Sigmund Freud? What unites binge-worthy Netflix fare with Charles Dickens? The course investigates the case study, which plays a crucial role in criminal, legal, and medical contexts alike. While case studies are certainly familiar from tv series or podcasts, the form has a rich literary history. We will survey works from a range of national traditions, examining the features of the case that enable it to operate in and across multiple genres and fields. Our discussions will center on questions of epistemology and form, as we ask what kind of knowledge cases transmit and how they transmit it. Do they depict exceptional phenomena, or do they seek to delineate the qualities that are representative of a given phenomenon? Who has the authority to tell stories about whom? Why are cases so often relayed in serial form?