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International Health Humanities Conference Madness and Literature Panel 1 presentation, Friday 6th August 2010 Illness narrative and madness narratives:

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Presentation on theme: "International Health Humanities Conference Madness and Literature Panel 1 presentation, Friday 6th August 2010 Illness narrative and madness narratives:"— Presentation transcript:

1 International Health Humanities Conference Madness and Literature Panel 1 presentation, Friday 6th August 2010 Illness narrative and madness narratives: a historical perspective James Whitehead Centre for the Humanities and Health Kings College London

2 Illness Narrative (contemporary) Anne Hunsaker Hawkins, Reconstructing Illness: Studies in Pathography (1993) Arthur Frank, The Wounded Storyteller (1995) Howard Brody, Stories of Sickness (2003) Arthur Kleinman, The Illness Narratives: Suffering, Healing and the Human Condition (1988) G. Thomas Couser, Recovering Bodies: Illness, Disability, and Life-writing (1997) C. Mattingly & L. C. Garo, Narrative and the Cultural Construction of Illness and Healing (2000) Rita Charon, Narrative Medicine (2006) John Wiltshire, Biography, Pathography, and the Recovery of Meaning, Cambridge Quarterly, 29 (2000) Madness Narratives (historical) B. Kaplan, The Inner World of Mental Illness: First Person Accounts of What it was Like (1964) Dale Peterson, A Mad People's History of Madness (1982) Roy Porter, A Social History of Madness: Stories of the Insane (1987) Allan Ingram, Voices of Madness: Four Pamphlets (1997) J. L. Geller & M. Harris, Women of the Asylum. Voices From Behind the Walls, (1994) A. Beveridge & K. Webb, Asylum Writings in Nineteenth-Century Britain (tbc) Gail Hornstein, Bibliography of First-Person Narratives of Madness in English (3rd edition) at

3 Anne Hawkins (Reconstructing Illness) Characteristics of illness narrative: - testimony to suffering - anger and protest at established medical authority and theory - promotion of alternative methods of treatment Mythic archetypes of illness narrative: - death and rebirth - battle or struggle - the journey Arthur Frank (The Wounded Storyteller) - the restitution narrative - the chaos narrative - the quest narrative

4 A very good common place counsel is Self Identity to bid our own hearts not to forget our own selves & always to keep self in the first place lest all the world who always keeps us behind it should forget us all together – forget not thyself & the world will not forget thee – forget thyself & the world will willingly forget thee till thou art nothing but a living-dead man dwelling among shadows & falsehood. […] Self Identity is one of the finest principles in everybodys life and fills up the outline of honest truth in the decision of character – a man who denies himself must be either a madman or a coward I am often troubled at times to know that should the world have the impudence not to know me but willingly forget me wether any single individual would be honest enough to know me – such people would be usefull as the knocker to a door or the bell of a cryer to own the dead alive or the lost found [...] surely every man has the liberty to know himself John Clare By Himself (ed. Eric Robinson and David Powell; Fyfield, 1996) p. 271


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