Madness threatens to dissolve boundaries of the most various kinds: between the human and the inhumane, reality and fantasy, sickness and health. One of the tasks of a literary text is to subdue and contain madness through the construction of rational frameworks. How does a literary text accomplish this? Which strategies, such as the use of irony and humor, are the most effective? What role do insane characters play in literary texts? And when - if ever - should we consider an excess of reason as a kind of madness in its own right? Selected readings from Shakespeare, Voltaire, Goethe, Hoffmann, Büchner, Gogol, and Schnitzler, among others.