Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Critical strategies of narrating mental illness in contemporary life writing
Author: Longhurst, Katrina Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 8504 559X
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2019
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Thesis embargoed until 01 Dec 2024
Access from Institution:
In this thesis I examine contemporary life writing about mental illness published in the UK and USA. I focus on memoirs that exceed and disrupt conventional narrative typologies of overcoming, triumph, and quest, which dominate in contemporary culture and critical thought. I analyse prose and graphic texts that self-consciously experiment with methods of narrating experiences of mental illness and, subsequently, complicate how such stories are read. To achieve this I develop a feminist methodology that brings together theory and approaches from the critical medical humanities, critical disability studies, critical trauma studies, autobiography studies, and, in the final chapter, comics studies. This commitment to interdisciplinarity allows me to negotiate the complex entanglements of mental illness, madness, psychiatric disability, trauma, and distress. As such, my thesis responds to and extends calls within the critical medical humanities to adopt interdisciplinary methodologies; to attend to complicated acts of narrative; to interrogate practices of reading illness narratives; and to analyse the polyvalent work they perform. My readings explore writers' critiques of their diagnosis, the intersections of mental illness and histories of sexual violence, relationality and interdependence, and the embodied nature of mental illness. Through these textual analyses I identify a set of critical strategies - including ambiguity, entanglement, polyvocality, and hybridity - through which my selection of writers convey their lived experiences of mental illness. My sustained emphasis on process and form is not merely driven by aesthetic interest, but by a recognition that these kinds of transgressive narratives, precisely because of their difficulty, have much to say about the ongoing complexities and messiness of living with mental illness. I argue that these writers use such critical strategies not only to destabilise assumptions about living with mental illness, but also to disrupt attempts to contain, control, and categorise how such experiences are told in narrative.
Supervisor: Murray, Stuart ; Barker, Clare Sponsor: University of Leeds
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available