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Graduate Summer 2020: Liana Glew

Ravings: Reading, Writing, and Psychiatry in the American Asylum

Department of English

Ravings: Reading, Writing, and Psychiatry in the American Asylum

“Ravings: Reading, Writing, and Psychiatry in the American Asylum” examines literature, journalistic exposés, paperwork, and archival patient writing from 1800 to 1970 (the approximate lifespan of the asylum in the U.S.) to develop methods of reading that center patient agency. I work through the ways that analytical practices (both within and outside of the academy) overlap with psychiatric diagnostic practices. These practices include easily-visible methods like psychoanalytic literary criticism, but also the nearly-invisible ways that paperwork tells and obscures patient stories. Ultimately, I ask how reading practices might allow readers to better honor the agency and desire in patients’ writing.