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Anna Jamieson

Other Bodies: The spectacle of female madness.

This project examines the spectacularisation of female madness between the late 18th and early 19th centuries, focusing on the display and reception of mental health conditions now typified as female. Addressing previously unexplored aspects of the history of psychiatry via its focus on gender, it engages with recent debates in visual culture and museum studies by considering the madwoman alongside recent concepts of spectacle: ‘Dark Tourism’ and ‘Freakery'. I will consider two distinct female tropes of madness that emerged during this period: the melancholic, increasingly fashionable 'Crazy Jane' in contrast to an alternative, sexualised, destabilising mode of mania, seen across visual culture and through sensationalised narratives. Key sources include asylum records, periodicals, novels, plays, poetry and diaries, as I plot the ways that the madwomen became a figure through which political and social anxieties were made manifest.

Supervisors: Dr Kate Retford and Dr Suzannah Biernoff.

Image: Robert Edge Pine, Madness, c.1770