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Title: The madness of the norm : thinking 'the abnormal' through Bachelard to Head
Author: Margree, Victoria Jane.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3618 898X
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2002
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The thesis is concerned with ideas of 'normality'. What does it mean to be normal, either for the discourses which aim to define this (for example, the human sciences), or for the human subject who is both originator and object of all such attempts? The thesis tries to think the 'normal' as that which is essentially indebted - albeit in an unacknowledged way - to the term which would seem to name the subversion of it, that of the' abnormal'. 'Abnormality' is read throughout as connoting a plurality of 'threats' to what is normal: to error, irrationality, pathology and madness. The first part of the thesis is interested in scientific norms. By elaborating and developing the key terms of French epistemologist Gaston Bachelard's defence of the objectivity of scientific discourse, it is argued that the rationality of scientific norms depends upon their periodic subjection to a deformation (an unnorming) in moments of creative revision. A similar thought emerges through the second chapter, where, following the work of philosopher of medicine Georges Canguilhem, it is argued that what is 'normal' for human beings is precisely to risk one's existing forms of normality through flights into an abnormality of which pathology (including mental illness) is an irreducible risk. The second part of the thesis considers the relationship of literature to normality. Is what is normal for literature that it creatively suspend forms of normality? The third chapter considers this question through Derrida's work on the relation ofliterature to law and aporia. In the final chapter, Bessie Head's novel A Ouestion of Power is read as producing a profound questioning of ideas about what it is to be (mentally, culturally) normal, through the inscription of experiences which refuse simply to be normalised by any scientific, medical or literary expectations
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Derrida