Madness, psychiatry and anti-psychiatry in English and French women’s writing and film

Murdoch, Emma Louise Annabel (2017). Madness, psychiatry and anti-psychiatry in English and French women’s writing and film. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis examines the theme of women’s madness in the 1960s and 1970s through the works of four English and French writers and film-makers: Chantal Akerman, Emma Santos, Jane Arden and Mary Barnes. It examines how these four writers and film-makers inscribe madness into their texts from a sociological angle, presenting the texts and films discussed as socio-historical artefacts while analysing each writer and film-maker’s representation of women’s madness.
Inspired by psychologist Phyllis Chesler, who argues that madness is tied to socially defined gender roles and used to demarcate violations of expected gendered behaviour, this research analyses various manifestations of ‘madness’ from the everyday madness of Chantal Akerman, to psychiatrically incarcerated madness in the texts of Emma Santos, to madness influenced by anti-psychiatry through the works of Jane Arden, to complete immersion in anti-psychiatry with Mary Barnes. The interdisciplinary and cross-cultural nature of this thesis combines fields from both English and French studies, from the study of female writers and film-makers, psychoanalytic theory, the history of psychiatry and how they intersect with gender combined with contemporary feminist writings of philosophy, psychology, and theology.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Modern Languages
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
D History General and Old World > DC France
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages
P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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