CFP: Madness and Literature – What Fiction Can Do for the Understanding of Mental Illness

Date: 8-9 August 2018

Location: Aarhus University, Denmark

Deadline: 20 April 2018

Call for Papers: Madness and Literature – What Fiction Can Do for the Understanding of Mental Illness

Philosophers have considered the relation between madness and literature since Plato’s Phaedrus. Mental illness has been a favourite topic for great authors throughout literary history just as psychologists and psychiatrists like Sigmund Freud and Karl Jaspers have been interested in and influenced by literature. Pioneers within philosophy, psychiatry and the world of art share the endeavour to explore and explain the human mind and behaviour, including what a society deems as being outside perceived normality.

This conference seeks to explore intersections between literature and mental health issues. Possible paper topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Representations of mental illness in different literary genres like the novel, poetry, drama etc.
  • Comparisons between literature’s representation of mental illness and its representation in other art forms and different media
  • The history of madness literature
  •  The potential instrumental use of literature in psychiatry didactics
  •  Experiences of applying literature in a clinical context
  •  Issues of mental illness related to fiction and fictionality in e.g. the pathography, autobiography, graphic memoirs, or autofiction
  •  Literature in relation to narrative medicine and the health humanities
  • Bibliotherapy
  •  Creative writing and reflexive writing

Confirmed keynote speakers:

Louis A. Sass, Distinguished Professor, Department of Clinical Psychology, Rutgers University

Charley Baker, Lecturer in Mental Health, School of Health Sciences, University of Nottingham

The conference takes places at Aarhus University, Denmark, 8-9 August 2018.

Potential speakers should submit a 300-word proposal to Lasse Gammelgaard (<>) by 20 April 2018. Notice of acceptance can be expected by 9 May.

A projected outcome of the conference is an edited volume.

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