Dreams of different things: the experience of schizophrenia as represented in journals, clinical accounts and fiction in the early modern period

Toomey, David, Department of English, University of Virginia
Day, Douglas, Department of English Language and Literature

My dissertation examines schizophrenia as it was discovered, understood, explained and represented by a loose constellation of psychologists, diarists, and novelists during the modern period. The foremost purpose of this project is to suggest that as Modernism explored the generalized mental experience, so there was, within Modernism, an intellectual and artistic undercurrent which explored the particular mental experience of schizophrenia. The process qegins in diaries and clinical accounts of schizophrenia at the turn of the century, is given energy by Surrealists, is formalized and legitimated by aesthetic theories and formal psychology in the 1920s, and reaches its earliest (and perhaps greatest) culmination in the 1930s in the work of William Faulkner.

The project also has two ancillary goals. One is simply to bring certain fascinating texts to light, each a story from a strange and distant realm of human experience. Another is to describe the strategies texts from a variety of genres adopt to overcome problems inherent in communicating the experience of schizophrenia.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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