Literature and Coping Skills

By Prof. Ajit K Mishra   |   IIT(BHU) Varanasi
Learners enrolled: 1449
This course helps learners explore the power of literary experience as a means to strong coping strategies and resilience, skills that matter the most in our times. Almost all of us are hounded by the uncanny at some point of time in our lives. We continue to bear these mental pangs silently and privately until we are overwhelmed by those weird feelings. The moments of disarray challenge us to either disappear into the dark or fight our way back into life. The point of return lies in our mind, in our will, and in our negotiations. The principal objective of this course is to engage learners with the power of poetic communication through their mind, body, and spirit and to help them experience personal growth by learning to overcome the fatal strikes of fear, anxiety, depression, trauma, and heartbreak. The course modules focus on a range of universally experienced themes, such as doubt and despair, bereavement and grief, love and heartbreak, pain and suffering with a view to discovering the beauty in everyday life and embracing life’s lessons gracefully.

Students of Engineering, Medical Science, and Management

There are no such prerequisites. However, a good knowledge of English is preferable.

   : All of the industry that expect their employees to have strong coping skills and resilience will value this course.
Course Status : Completed
Course Type : Elective
Duration : 8 weeks
Category :
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit Points : 2
Level : Undergraduate/Postgraduate
Start Date : 21 Feb 2022
End Date : 15 Apr 2022
Enrollment Ends : 21 Feb 2022
Exam Date : 23 Apr 2022 IST

Note: This exam date is subjected to change based on seat availability. You can check final exam date on your hall ticket.

Page Visits

Course layout

Week 1: The Power of Literary Experience
i.Existential concerns-I
ii. Existential concerns-II
• Bhartrihari, “Fear of Death”
• Rabindranath Tagore, “Give Me Strength”
      iii. Emotional wellbeing- I
      iv.Emotional wellbeing- II
      v.Personality- I
      vi.Personality- II
      vii.Simulation and higher order thinking
             viii.Empathy and emotional intelligence
Week 2: Poetry and Healing
      i.Poetry therapy-I
      ii.Poetry therapy- II
• Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata”
•Danna Faulds, “Allow”
     iii. Verbal imagery and healing-I
     iv. Verbal imagery and healing-II
     v. Rhetoric and prosody- I
     vi. Rhetoric and prosody- II
     vii. Rhetoric and prosody- III
     viii. Rhetoric and prosody- IV
Week 3: Conquering Fear
      i. The psychology of fear and anxiety-I
      ii. The psychology of fear and anxiety-I
     iii. John Donne, ‘Death be not Proud”
     iv. Robert Frost, “The Road not Taken”
Week 4: Defeating Depression
      i. Feeling Weird, Losing Touch-I
      ii. Feeling Weird, Losing Touch-II
     iii. Alfred Lord Tennyson, “Break, Break, Break”
     iv. John Keats, “Ode on Melancholy”
Week 5: Negotiating Trauma
     i. Unclaimed Experiences-I
     ii. Unclaimed Experiences-II
     iii. Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise”
     iv. Elizabeth Murphy, “The Night That Changed Everything”
Week 6: Overcoming Heartbreak
     i. Love. Heartbreak, and Healing-I
    II. Love. Heartbreak, and Healing-II
    iii. Robert Browning, “The Last Ride Together”
    iv. Derek Walcott, “The Fist”
Week 7: Taming Substance Abuse
     i. The Culture of Escape: Elusion or Illusion? -I
     ii. The Culture of Escape: Elusion or Illusion? -II
     iii. Charles Baudelaire, “Be Drunk”
     iv. Charles Bukowski, “The Suicide Kid”
Week 8:Beating Eating Disorder
      i. Mimetic Desire and the Possessed Body- I
      ii. Mimetic Desire and the Possessed Body- II
     iii. Carol Ann Duffy, “The Diet”
     iv. Marty McConnell, “Instructions for a Body”

Books and references

1.Beiderwell, B and J. M. Wheeler (2016). The Literary Experience. Cengage.
2.Crafton, L. (1981). Reading and writing as transactional processes. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Indiana University.
3. Hedges, D. (2013). Poetry, Therapy and Emotional Life. Radcliffe Publishing.
4. Lakoff, G. and M. Johnson (1980). Metaphors We Live By. University of Chicago Press.
5. Mazza, N. (2017), Poetry Therapy: Theory and Practice, Routledge,
6. Richo, D (2009). Being True to Life: Poetic Paths to Personal Growth. Shambhala.
7. Rosenblatt, L. (1978). The Reader, the Text, the Poem: A Transactional Theory of the Literary Work. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
8. Tukhareli, N. (2014). Healing Through Books: The Evolution and Diversification of Bibliotherapy. Edwin Mellen Press Ltd.
9. Beum, R. L. and K. Shapiro (2006). The Prosody Handbook: A Guide to Poetic Form. Dover Publications, INC.

1. Carroll, R. (2005). “Finding the Words to Say It: The Healing Power of Poetry.” eCAM.
2. Easterlin, N. (2013). “The Functions of Literature and the Evolution of Extended Mind.” New Literary History: A Journal of Theory and Interpretation.
3. Gillespie, T (1994). “Why Literature Matters.” The English Journal.
4. Meneses, R. W. and M. Larkin (2015). “The Experience of Empathy: Intuitive, Sympathetic, and Intellectual Aspects of Social Understanding.” Journal of Humanistic Psychology.
5. Obermeier, C et. al. (2013). “Aesthetic and Emotional Effects of Meter and Rhyme in Poetry.” Frontiers in Psychology.
6. Rinaldi, J (1996). "Rhetoric and Healing: Revising Narratives About Disability." College English.
7. Short, K. G. (1993). “Making Connections Across Literature and Life.” Journeying: Children Responding to Literature. Ed. R. A. Hungerford et. al. Heinemann.
8. SUMARA, D. J. (2003). Towards a Theory of Embodied Literary Experience, English Teaching: Practice and Critique.
9. Wilson, R. (1952). Literature, Society, and Personality. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.`

Instructor bio

Prof. Ajit K Mishra

IIT(BHU) Varanasi
Ajit K Mishra has been teaching English Literature and Language for the last fifteen years. Through his personal engagements with literature as a powerful medium of communication and simulation, he has explored the therapeutic potential of the expressive and engaging power of words and their healing properties. He has designed similar courses “Leadership through Literature”, “Literature and Crisis Management”, and “Literature and Decision Making” to keep disseminating the transformational power of literature. He has also been teaching courses that are strategically designed to enhance life and career skills among learners. Besides, he has been training researchers in writing and communication strategies which are vital to the widespread dissemination of complex research findings.

Course certificate

The course is free to enroll and learn from. But if you want a certificate, you have to register and write the proctored exam conducted by us in person at any of the designated exam centres.
The exam is optional for a fee of Rs 1000/- (Rupees one thousand only).
Date and Time of Exams: 23 April 2022 Morning session 9am to 12 noon; Afternoon Session 2pm to 5pm.
Registration url: Announcements will be made when the registration form is open for registrations.
The online registration form has to be filled and the certification exam fee needs to be paid. More details will be made available when the exam registration form is published. If there are any changes, it will be mentioned then.
Please check the form for more details on the cities where the exams will be held, the conditions you agree to when you fill the form etc.


Average assignment score = 25% of average of best 6 assignments out of the total 8 assignments given in the course.
Exam score = 75% of the proctored certification exam score out of 100

Final score = Average assignment score + Exam score

YOU WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR A CERTIFICATE ONLY IF AVERAGE ASSIGNMENT SCORE >=10/25 AND EXAM SCORE >= 30/75. If one of the 2 criteria is not met, you will not get the certificate even if the Final score >= 40/100.

Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup.It will have the logos of NPTEL and IIT Madras .It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.

Only the e-certificate will be made available. Hard copies will not be dispatched.

Once again, thanks for your interest in our online courses and certification. Happy learning.

- NPTEL team

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