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The Treatment of Insanity in Australian Total Institution Fiction

La république des lettres —

Forthcoming article: “The Art of Penning The March Hare In: The Treatment of Insanity in Australian Total Institution Fiction.” AUMLA: Journal of the Australasian Universities Language and Literature Association 118, November 2012, 1-14.


The treatment of psychological disorders of all kinds and, more largely, of the deterioration of the mind, gradually made its mark in Australian novels in the early 1970s and gave rise to a series of books concerned with mental health issues. This belated literary awakening to insanity is all the stranger seeing that creativity and madness have often been paired, both being particularly apt at articulating the relationship between freedom and constraints, mental representations and reality, the individual and society.

By analyzing total institution fiction, namely literature concerned with characters confined to reclusion in total institutions and living in very close quarters with other inmates, Jean-François Vernay explores insanity through the 3 Ps: the penning institution, the patients and their pathology.

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