Aims and Objectives
Arts and Humanities Research Council Funded Madness and Literature Network
The Madness and Literature Network aims to stimulate cooperation and co-working between researchers, academics, clinicians, service users, carers and creative writers in order to develop an interdisciplinary, global dialogue about the issues raised around representations of madness in literature. Literary research has become a key resource for the advancement of medical and health professionals' education, affording broader perspectives, critical thinking skills and promoting an emotionally receptive or empathic climate for clinical practice. With this project, we are seeking to form new methodologies, strengthen and maintain partnerships and enable comprehensive critical dialogues across the fields of literature, linguistics and mental health care.
The term 'madness' is employed deliberately to signal our alignment with literary and historical scholarship and our commitment to a broad, inclusive approach, rather than a necessarily narrower clinical focus as would be implied by terms such as ‘mental disorder’, ‘mental illness’, or by naming a specific illness in our titling. We encourage individual reviewers to use whichever language they are comfortable with or find useful when writing for our site. Our database of fictions that focus on madness is listed thematically by experience and by disorder, and again we encourage reviewers to use whatever terminology they feel most useful here. In our book, Madness in Post 1945 British and American Fiction (Baker, Crawford, Brown, Lipsedge and Carter, Palgrave, 2010) we explore the many problems associated with diagnostic readings of fiction, and also how individual authors deconstruct and subvert classificatory systems in their work. However, feedback has suggested that a large number of users on this site prefer the ease of reference and navigation that using existing terminology brings. We would of course not want a database that was searchable only through terms such as 'madness'!
The project consists of three main strands:
- Website – The website has been developed with that aim of internationalising the Network. It contains a growing database of fiction and autobiography relating to madness and mental health – this currently has around 100 books included in it, which have been read and reviewed in part for the Leverhulme Trust funded project, hence it has a post-war focus at this stage. We welcome reviews from members of our network of any texts relating to issues of madness and mental health. These reviews will be fully peer-reviewed and published on the site, with full accreditation to the reviewer.
- Four Seminars - Femi Oyebode spoke at our first seminar on Power and Psychiatry. Our second seminar was in May 2009 on Creativity and Mental Health, with authors Paul Sayer and Patrick Gale leading the day. The final two seminars were focused on Mental States, with Charley Baker, Professor Patricia Duncker and Dr Maurice Lipsedge presenting papers, and Ethnicity, Diversity, Madness and Fiction, with Professor Mark Johnson leading the day and additional papers presented by Paul Crawford and Brian Brown. Podcasts are available for a selection of these talks.
- The 1st International Health Humanities Conference – In August 2010 the Institute of Mental Health and the Madness and Literature Network HOSTED the 1st International Health Humanities Conference, the theme of which was Madness and Literature.
2nd International Health Humanities Conference
The 2nd International Health Humanities Conference: Music, Health, and Humanity to be held at The Colleges of the Arts and of the Humanities and Social Sciences at Montclair State
University, New Jersey, USA between the 9th - 11th August 2012.
Next Call-for-Papers is now in effect! The deadline for the current call is 1st April, 2012 - Please consider submitting a proposal.
Also, whether or not you intend to share a paper, please register if you are planning on attending. The price of registration includes a number of meals, provided at the conference as well as music provided by several special guests (still to be announced)!
Early registration (for reduced rate) deadline is 30th April, 2012.
- For Paper Proposal submissions and Registration (along with other information), please visit the conference website
- For updates on the conference, and for further discussion about the Health Humanities, please join the Health Humanities Facebook page
The Leverhulme Trust Funded Project – Madness in Post-war British and American Fiction
With a generous grant from The Leverhulme Trust, representations of madness in post-war British and American fiction were examined over the course of 3 years. A number of research papers have arisen from this project, several of which have been presented at international conferences. The project culminated in a monograph - Baker, Crawford, Brown, Lipsedge and Carter. Madness in Post-1945 British and American Fiction (Palgrave: 2010)
There have also been impactful outputs stemming from this project – for example, a series of readings given at the Nottingham Mental Health Awareness Week by Charley Baker, and a Get Into Reading bibliotherapeutic group, run in a deprived area of Nottingham, was developed by Charley Baker and Ronald Carter among others. For further details on this project, please contact us.