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Madness and Literature: First Annual Health Humanities Conference

We're excited to see that the programme for the First Annual Health Humanities Conference on "Madness and Literature" has been announced, with a fascinating array of keynote speakers, panel sessions and poster presentations. Papers include Samantha Walton's 'Guilty But Insane: Psychiatric Detectives in the ‘Golden Age’;, Sonja Deschrijver's 'The Devil in Writing: Malady, Mind and Medicine in Early Modern Spiritual Text and Criminal Trial Proceedings' and Dr Caroline Logan's 'La femme fatale: The Female Psychopath in Literature and Clinical Practice.' Bethlem also finds representation: two papers discuss the work of Samuel Beckett, inspired to write Murphy and Watt by a visit to the Hospital in the 1930s, while Sarah Chaney's paper on self-mutilation in Victorian fiction, “A hideous torture on himself,” is grounded in research into the Hospital's 19th century casebooks.

Taking place in Nottingham from 6-8 August 2010, the conference is hosted by the Institute of Mental Health at the University of Nottingham, as part of an AHRC-funded project, the Madness and Literature Network. The 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: the Conference will bring together speakers from the humanities and clinical backgrounds to aid this collaboration.

Our readers may be particularly interested in the conference's keynote speakers. On Friday 6 August, Kay Redfield Jamison, a leading expert in mood disorders, will discuss ‘The Consequences of Writing a Memoir about Madness.' Kay's autobiography, An Unquiet Mind, documents her personal battle with Bipolar Affective Disorder (BPAD), while Touched With Fire examines manic-depressive illness and the artistic temperament: her presentation promises to be engaging and insightful. On Saturday 7 August, Elaine Showalter, author of the influential The Female Malady, will provide a cultural perspective on 'The Grand Delusions.'

You can find the full conference programme and registration form on the Madness and Literature website. Several free places for service users and carers remain: interested parties should contact Charlotte Baker for details (email address can be found on the homepage of the Madness and Literature site).