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Women and Madness: Resources for Teaching

This file contains suggested readings, films, etc. for a course on Women and 
Madness.  The suggestions appeared on WMST-L in May/June, 1994.  For additional 
WMST-L Files now available on the Web, see the WMST-L File List. 
Date: Fri, 13 May 1994 15:46:53 -1000
From: Diane Maluso <maluso@UHUNIX.UHCC.HAWAII.EDU>
Subject: Women and Madness
Hello all...
I'm teaching a 300 level seminar in Women's Studies next fall. The title
is Women and Madness. I intend focus primarily on issues from psychology
of women and incorporate some fiction and autobiography.
If you have any suggestions for interesting readings that would be
appropriate for such a course, I'd appreciate hearing from you.
Please respond to me privately at:
Thanks in advance,
Diane Maluso

Diane Maluso, Ph.D.                        
Dept. of Women's Studies                   
722 Porteus Hall                                                      <>
Honolulu, HI   96822                       

	Here is a list of the suggestions that were received.  The actual messages 
are appended to the list of suggestions:
Suggested Readings for Women and Madness
Dialogues with Madwomen     Filmmaker: Ally Light
A Dangerous Woman  with Debra Winger and Barbara Hersey
Story of Adele H (French, Truffaut, 1975)
Camille Claudel (French, Nuytten, 1989)
Frances (US, Clifford, 1982)
The Three Faces of Eve (US, Johnson, 1957)
The Legend of Lizzie Borden (US, Wendkos, 1975)
I Never Promised You a Rose-Garden (US, Page, 1977)
Lilith (US, Rossen, Beatty)
Marnie (US, Hitchcock)
Sisters (DePalma)
David and Lisa
Dark Mirror
Suddenly Last Summer
The Snake Pit
Possessed (US, Bernhardt, 1947)
Seance on a Wet Afternoon (GB, Forbes, 1964)
Belle de Jour (FR, Bunuel, 1967)
Lizzie (US, Haas, 1957)
Don't Bother to Knock (US, Baker, 1952)
The Shrike (US, Ferrer, 1955)
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane
Angel at My Table  Jane Campion
Sweetie    Jane Campion
A Killing in a Small Town   with Barbara Hershey, Hal Holbrook
A Question of Silence    Dutch
She's Been Away    A Masterpiece Theatre presentation
A Woman Under The Influence      with Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk
I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can         with Jill Clayburgh and Geraldine
Page (1982)
Betty Blue (French)
Fiction and possibly Autobiographies:
A Dangerous Woman
Woman on the Edge of Time   Marge Biercy
The Golden Notebook   Doris Lessing
To Room Nineteen   Doris Lessing
The Four-Gated City  Doris Lessing
The Grass is Singing  Doris Lessing
Surfacing  Margaret Atwood
Girl, Interrupted  Susanna Kaysen
Suddenly Last Summer   Tennessee Williams
Faces In the Mirror    Janet Frame
Short Stories of Margaret Gibson.. including Making It.
The Yellow Wallpaper  Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Bluest Eye  Toni Morrison
Franny and Zooey  Salinger
The Bell Jar   Sylvia Plath
Wide Sargasso Sea  Jean Rhys
The Haunting of Hill House   Shirley Jackson
The Awakening  Kate Chopin
Diary of a Mad Housewife  Sue Kaufman
Anne Sexton's Poetry
Sylvia Plath's Poetry
Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York    Gail Parent
The Man Who Loved Children  Christina Stead
Mad  Man  Erica Jong
Island   Shirley Jackson
Marge Piercy's poetry
Hedda Gable
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Jude the Obscure
Possessing the Secret of Joy  Alice Walker
Talking Indian   Anna Lee Walters
The Chosen Place   Paula Marshall
The Timeless People   Paula Marshall
Nervous Conditions   Tsi Tsi Dangarembga
A Question of Power    Bessie Head
Housekeeping   Marilynne Robinson
Woman Who Owned the Shadows  Paula Gunn Allen
Tirra Lirra by the River  Jessica Anderson
The Edible Woman  Margaret Atwood
Norma Jean the Termite Queen  Sheila Ballantyne
Dancing in the Dark  Joan Barfoot
Men Have All the Fun  Gwynneth Branfoot
The Honeyman Festival  Marian Engel
Tea & Tranquilizers: The Diary of a Happy Housewife  Diane Harpwood
The House of Mirth  Edith Wharton
The Cracker Factory  Joyce Rebeta Burditt
Beloved  Toni Morrison
Lady Audley's Secret  Braddon
A Book of Common Prayer  Joan Didion
Poetry of Lois-Ann Yamanaka
The Woman Warrior   Maxine Hong Kingston
Talking to the Dead   Sylvia Watanabe
The Female Malady: Women, Madness and English Culture 1830-1980
        by Elaine Showalter, 1985. Penguin
A biography of Anne Sexton by Diane Middlebrook
The Diary of Virginia Woolf
Freud's Dora, Dora's Hysteria  by Maria Ramas in J.L. Newton, M.P. Ryand,
& J.R.  Walkowitz (eds), Sex and Class in Women's History, London:
Routledge,      1983: 72-113.
The Looney Bin Trip   Kate Millett
Women's Madness: Misogyny or Mental Illness  Jane Ussher (1992) U. Mass
Personality and Psychopathology: Feminist Reappraisals  Laura Brown &
Mary    Ballou (1992)
The Prisoner's Hidden Life, or Insane Asylums Unveiled  by Elizabeth
Parsons         Ware Packard (Chicago, 1868)
The Private War of Mrs. Packard by Barbara Sapinsley
Silencing the Self: Women and Depression   Dana Jack
Women and Madness    Phyllis Chesler
The Madwoman in the Attic    Gilbert and Gubar
Sea Run: Surviving My Mother's Madness by Mary Lou Shields (1981)
Nobody Nowhere   autobiography of an autistic woman
Writing and Madness  Shoshana Felman
Article on Women and Anxiety Disorders in recent issue of Iris: A
Journal         About Women
Psychology Constructs the Female  Naomi Weisstein
The Savage God  A. Alvarez
Writings by Carol Tavris
Women and Moral Madness  Kathryn Morgan in Can. Jnl of Philosophy, 1982
Plaintext   Nancy Mair
Madness and Sexual Politics in the Feminist Novel  Barbara Hill Rigney
     Here are the messages that appeared on WMST-L:
Date: Sat, 14 May 1994 04:32:01 -0400
From: Barbara Scott <ao241@FREENET.CARLETON.CA>
Subject: Re: Women and Madness
Dear Diane,
Try Margaret Gibson's short stories. She writes about women and mental
illness. "Making It" is one story I use.
My skin stretches over the earth. I think of atlases and remember history
and the future in the same moment. - Touch the Dragon -
Barbara Scott    ao241@freenet.carleton.ca
Date: Sun, 15 May 1994 13:16:35 -0700
From: Marilyn Edelstein <MEDELSTEIN@SCU.BITNET>
Subject: Re: Women and Madness
A few obvious literary choices--Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow
Wallpaper," Doris Lessing's "To Room Nineteen" (both often anthologized;
"Wallpaper" also published as paperback); also if you would be interested
in theoretical work in literary studies, Gilbert and Gubar's THE MADWOMAN
IN THE ATTIC.  Phyllis Chesler's WOMEN AND MADNESS (I think that's the
title) may already be on your list. (The Gilman and Lessing are, of course,
fiction; you may also want to look at Toni Morrison's novel THE BLUEST EYE).
Hope these are useful and not too obvious.  Marilyn Edelstein, English,
Santa Clara U, CA       medelstein@scuacc.scu.edu
Date: Sun, 15 May 1994 17:26:32 -0400
From: Lucy Candib MD <lcandib@UMASSMED.UMMED.EDU>
Subject: women and madness
A wonderful book: Mary Lou Shields, Sea Run: Surviving my MOther's Madness. New
York: Seaview Books, 1981.
Lucy M. Candib, M.D.
Family Health and Social Service Center
875 Main St.
Worcester, Massachusetts 01610
Date: Sun, 15 May 1994 17:30:47 -0400
From: "Janet E. McAdams" <jmcadam@EMORYU1.CC.EMORY.EDU>
Subject: Re: Women and Madness
Anna Lee Walters, _Talking Indian_ (one story takes place in an
institution--I don't have the book in front of me, so I can't give you the
title. The protagonist is not "mad," but following traditional ways
(Walters in Otoe & Pawnee(?))
Adrienne Rich, "The Phenomenology of Anger" in _Diving into the Wreck_
(& passim the whole collection)
Sylvia Plath, _The Bell Jar_
Paule Marshall, _The Chosen Place, the Timeless People_
Doris Lessing, _The Four-Gated City_
_Camille Claudel_ (film, sorry I can't remember the director)
Date: Sun, 15 May 1994 18:28:42 -0500
From: Sandra K Herzan <herz0001@GOLD.TC.UMN.EDU>
Subject: Women and Madness
Several literary works come to mind:
Tsi Tsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions.
Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time.
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Bessie Head, A Question of Power
Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping (this is subject to debate)
Elaine Showalter, The Female Malady
I hope this helps.  Can you post the syllabus once it's complete?
Sandy Herzan
Department of English
University of Minnesota
Date: Mon, 16 May 1994 10:51:14 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Kathleen Marszycki." <Kathleen.Marszycki@TRINCOLL.EDU>
Subject: Women and Madness
Diane--A work by Shirley Jackson that is often overlooked (yet was fairly
"profitable" -  released as a movies starring Julie Harris and Claire Bloom
back in the mid-sixties) but which I feel is a fascinating study.  If
considered alongside "Yellow Wallpaper" and Gilbert & Gubar's MADWOMAN, it
works quite well.  Good luck & would also like to see your completed
"If you decide to enter the page . . ."
                        (Margaret Atwood)
Date: Mon, 16 May 1994 11:14:47 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Kathleen Marszycki." <Kathleen.Marszycki@TRINCOLL.EDU>
Subject: Women and Madness
It's Monday & my brain isn't functioning too well after a weekend with
kids, laundry, etc...the title of that book by Jackson is THE HAUNTING OF
Date: Mon, 16 May 1994 09:04:49 -0500
From: Janet Seiz <jseiz@SAUNIX.SAU.EDU>
Subject: Women and Madness
The latest figures compiled by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
say that one in five families are touched in some way by mental illness.
Most cities have a local chapter of the National Alliance for the
Mentally Ill (NAMI). You can find them in any phone book under AMI or
Alliance for the Mentally Ill.
Reading about women's experiences with "madness" is one way to learn, but
hearing from a family member or from a person that has experienced a
mental illness could be a broadening experience for your class.
Your local AMI group could suggest a family member speaker or a person
who has experienced mental illness--usually referred to as a
"consumer"-as in "consumer of mental health services."
Let me know if I can provide a list of current first person stories about
recovering from illness, etc.
Janet Seiz
St. Ambrose University
Davenport, Iowa
Date: Mon, 16 May 1994 10:55:20 -0400
From: "Mary Roberson \\ 513/229-2166" <ROBERSON@DAYTON.BITNET>
Subject: women and madness
In addition, I have used Alice Walker's _Possessing the Secret of Joy_
which gets into some very complex issues related to genital
mutilation.  Even Tashi's decision to have the operation, in part, is
an attempt to preserve her culture against the cultural imperialism of
the West.  The process of the book jumps around as does the name of
the main character such that the writing style is helpful toward
communicating the clash of cultures and psychological processes.
Tashi undergoes psychotherapy with Jung.
Walker wrote an article for Ms fairly recently in which she states her
belief that when African women come to terms with genital mutilation
as a human rights violation, a rather large & collective psychological
response will occur.  Of course, she has a movie on the topic which I
have not seen, but has been discussed on this list.  I understand there is
some controversy surrounding Walker's involvement with this topic, however,
even that is fruit for discussion.
Students really enjoyed reading the novel and exploring the many
issues related to this complex topic and how it relates to the
psychology of women.
Date: Mon, 16 May 1994 11:38:36 LCL
From: Sandy Martin <sandym@MIT.EDU>
Subject: Women and Madness
Two thoughts on women and madness:
        there was a hollywood film a few years ago, "Frances." it tells
the story of actress frances farmer, who is a bit of a radical, maybe an
alcoholic, but mostly just a woman with a mind of her own. she is
institutionalized and eventually lobotomizes. it is an intense movie,
very disturbing, but quite powerful. definitely worth consideration.
        there is also an independent feminist film on her life, but i
don't think it works as well. (i think 'women make movies' in nyc
distributes it.
        the other idea is a film which showed recently in a films series
here in boston and is about to have a regular opening. it is also an
independent feminist film distributed by women make movies (i think). it
is titled 'women and madness' and folks i know who saw it say it's very
powerful. i believe it is mostly interviews with women who have been
labeled 'crazy.'
        also, the obvious, is Kate Millett's book, The Looney Bin Trip.
Quite a good read. Feminist politics, but it is more confusing than,
say, "Frances" because reading it you can't quite decide if Millett is
crazy or not. She says no, the doctors and her family say yes, and the
reader isn't quite sure. so it gives a less black and white case study
for discussion.
        good luck-- sandy martin, women's studies, mit
Date: Mon, 16 May 1994 11:17:27 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Barbara G. Taylor" <BT24761@UAFSYSA.BITNET>
Subject: Women and Madness
What a "blast from the past" as some of our students would say.  In the
VERY early 70's, I taught a Women in Literature course sub-titled "Suicide,
Guilt, and Madness."  It included the works of novelists and poets whose
women characters went mad, committed suicide, or felt guilty about being
strong women.  Needless to say, many of the authors had killed themselves.
At that time, it seemed that many of the works by women authors with strong
woman characters that we were reading in Women and Lit courses had the
sub-text that there is a penalty for being a strong, independent woman.
I don't remember all the works we read, but they included Kate Chopin's -The
Awakening-, Plath's -The Bell Jar-, Sue Kaufman's -Diary of a Mad Housewife-,
Anne Sexton's and Sylvia Plath's poetry, Gail Parent's -Sheila Levine is Dead
and Living in New York-, Chesler's -Women and Madness-, Christina Stead's -The
Man Who Loved Children-, Erica Jong's "Mad Man," Shirley Jackson's "Island,"
peoms by Marge Piercy, a handfull of works by men about strong mad/suicidal/
guilty women: Hedda Gable, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Jude the Obscure,
etc., plus a lot of material on the portrayal of women in texts, women in the
psychotherapeutic relationship, Naomi Weisstein's "Psychology Constructs the
Female, prbably A. Alvarez's -The Savage God-.
All, by now, very dated material, but what an interesting class it was!
Barbara Taylor  BT24761@UAFSYSA.UARK.EDU
Date: Mon, 16 May 1994 13:12:14 -0500 (EST)
Subject: women and madness
A few weeks back (May 5th, i believe) i heard a filmaker on NPR's Fresh
Air discussing her documentary.  The film is called 'Dialogues with
Madwomen' and seems to have a feminist slant.  Her name is Allie Light,
although I'm not sure if that's how it's spelled.  Maybe someone else
has more info.
Vicky Borgia
Date: Mon, 16 May 1994 13:22:07 -0400
From: Jennifer Alabiso <jalabiso@CCAT.SAS.UPENN.EDU>
Subject: women and madness
A great piece of fiction that would work nicely w/ women and madness
(though the movie was not great) is Jean Rhys' _Wide Sargasso Sea_.  It's
the story of Bertha, the woman kept locked in Rochester's attic from
_Jane Eyre_.
Date: Mon, 16 May 1994 12:27:18 -0500
From: Cynthia Freeland <PHIL7@JETSON.UH.EDU>
Subject: Women and Madness
I have come a little late to this discussion but think I have a few
additional suggestions that haven't been mentioned.  One is Shoshana
Felman's book Writing and Madness which contains an interesting
critical reading of Derrida vs. Foucault on the allegedly liberatory
aspects of madness.  A few years ago I team-taught a course with an
art professor called "Representations of Madness" and we spent some
time reading through some of the accumulated literature on figures like
Diane Arbus that seems to mystify or celebrate madness.  It's esp. impt.
to do this in cases of women.  I mean, to include critical discussions
of filmic depictions like Betty Blue or Angel at my Table that seem
to romanticize women's madness, either as a route to her own artistry
or to a male lover's artistry.  To do this I endorse a previous
recommendation to contact the local AMI (Alliance for the Mentally
Ill) chapter and get someone from there, preferably a consumer, to
come and speak.  Further, let me just mention that in teaching the
course we learned that virtually everyone taking it had some close
experience with mental illness (a mother, sister, or student herself or
himself) and the professor should be prepared to deal with this.  Again
AMI can be of great help on that.
Cynthia Freeland
Date: Mon, 16 May 1994 13:48:46 -0500
From: Kathleen E Green <kgreen@CSD4.CSD.UWM.EDU>
Subject: Women and Madness
Another women and madness film is _I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can_ with Jill
Clayburgh and Geraldine Page, directed by Jack Hofsiss (Paramount 1982).
It's the story of a New York documentary filmaker who is making a movie
about a poet (G. Page) dying of cancer.  In the meantime, the filmaker is
popping too many nerve pills.  Her apparently sympathetic partner encourages
to give up her (sexist) therapist and her Valium, but instead of love and
support, begins to abuse her.  She goes mad and is put in an asylum, where
after her initial hostility at therapy, she begins treatment with a feminist
therapist.  It's interesting to see what the Hollywood film industry does
with the mad artist figure, and would be extremely appealing to undergrads.
Kathy Green
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Date: Mon, 16 May 1994 15:33:39 -0500
From: "Mara Siegel (Trinity College of Vermont)" <SIEGEL@SMCVAX.SMCVT.
Subject: women and madness
Dialogues with Madwomen will be on POV (PBS) the week of August 2.
According to their brochure it is "Seven women, including the filmmaker,
describe their experiences with manic depression, multiple personalities,
schizophrenia, euphoria and recovery. Academy Award winner Allie LIght
creates dream-like reenactments to capture the revelations of women who have
witnessed 'the dark side of the imagination.' A winner of the 1994 Freedom
of Expression Award at the Sundance Film Festival."
It is also available through Women Make Movies
Date: Mon, 16 May 1994 13:52:16 -0600
From: constance morris shortlidge <stlidge@HYDRA.UNM.EDU>
Subject: women and madness
Hi. There was a great Masterpiece Theater presentation several years ago,
sorry the name escapes me perhaps someone else can remember it, about a
young woman who is committed to an institution of 60 years for being
defiant toward her father and the mores of his generation (1920s/30s).
She is released after all those years into the care of her nephew and the
story is about her coming to herself, and the bonding that occurs with the
nephew's wife.  It is also a generational look at defiant women and the
penalties for such actions.  It is really wonderful. Constance M
Shortlidge, stlidge@hydra.unm.edu
Date: Mon, 16 May 1994 16:52:53 -0700
From: Little Miss Orbit <cstarr@ORION.OAC.UCI.EDU>
Subject: RE: Women and Madness
Another film:   "Betty Blue".  It's French, available subtitled in most
video stores.  I don't recall the director.  It is an intense
psychological story of an intelligent and vivacious woman who goes mad
from the frustration of trying to help her boyfriend become a published
author.  She cares more about his success than he does; alienated, he sees
her decompose mentally.  I don't want to give away the whole thing, but
in the end, he ends up killing her in what has been variously interpeted
as an act of mercy or as a final articulation of alienation.
///////////////////////////// * ==============================================
/cstarr@orion.oac.uci.edu /    * WE ARE THE PEOPLE YOUR PARENTS TOLD YOU ABOUT
/*********************** / * ==============================================
/       BOMP!           /
Date: Mon, 16 May 1994 20:21:48 -0700
From: Stacy Burton <sburton@UNR.EDU>
Subject: RE: women and madness
> There was a great Masterpiece Theater presentation several years ago,
> sorry the name escapes me perhaps someone else can remember it, about a
> young woman who is committed to an institution of 60 years for being
> defiant toward her father and the mores of his generation (1920s/30s).
> She is released after all those years into the care of her nephew and the
> story is about her coming to herself, and the bonding that occurs with the
> nephew's wife.  It is also a generational look at defiant women and the
> penalties for such actions.  It is really wonderful. Constance M
> Shortlidge, stlidge@hydra.unm.edu
The title is _She's Been Away_; I think it was made in around 1989.
Stacy Burton
University of Nevada, Reno
Date: Tue, 17 May 1994 07:44:40 -0400
Subject: RE: Women and Madness
i never promised you a rose garden, but it's nonfiction
Date: Tue, 17 May 1994 10:54:00 -0700
Subject: RE: Women and Madness
I'd like to add a couple of autobiographical works to the growing list of
materials on Women and Madness.  The first is:  _The Prisoner's Hidden Life,
or Insane Asylums Unveiled_ by Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard (Chicago, 1868).
Mrs. Packard was married to a straight-laced clergyman and had the temerity
to disagree with him on matters theological.  For this unthinkable crime, he
had her committed to the state mental hospital.  She was "a difficult patient,"
critical of asylum practices and outspoken about patients' rights, so the
head of the asylum discharged her into her husband's custody after 3 years,
pronouncing her "incurable."  Some of Mrs. Packard's friends secured a writ
of habeas corpus and brought the matter to trial in 1864, however, and the
jury found her sane after only seven minutes of deliberation.  Mrs. Packard
spent the rest of her life fighting for the rights of married women and for
the mentally ill.  Supporting herself as a writer, she eventually gained
custody of her children, and is credited with changing the commitment laws
in several states.  Barbara Sapinsley has written an account of this in
_The Private War of Mrs. Packard_ (which I haven't read, but was published
within the past two or three years).   The second autobiographical work is
quite current, and Susan Cheever gave it a favorable review in the
June 20, 1993 _New York Times Book Review_.  It's _Girl, Interrupted_, by
Susanna Kaysen.  It tells of her two-year stay at the prestigious McLean
Hospital in Belmont, Mass. in the late 1960's.  Cheever calls it
"triumphantly funny."  I love the first sentence of Cheever's review:
"When women are angry at men, they call them heartless; when men are angry
at women, they call them crazy."             --Karen Kidd
                                               Claremont Graduate School
Date: Tue, 17 May 1994 15:34:03 -0400
From: Maureen McHugh <MCMCHUGH@IUP.BITNET>
Subject: RE: Women and Madness
Ussher (1992) Women's Madness:  Misogyny or Mental Illness, University of Mass.
Press?  Or what about something like Laura Brown and Mary Ballou (1992)
Personality and Psychopathology:  Feminist Reappraisals.  Also I have always
been partial to A Woman Under the Influence, a pop relaease film with Peter
Falk and Gena Rowlands.  Maureen McHugh  MCMCHUGH@grove.iup.edu
Date: Tue, 17 May 1994 15:37:43 -0400 (EDT)
From: Rosa Maria Pegueros <PEGUEROS@URIACC.URI.EDU>
Subject: Women and Madness
The book that comes to mind (and I don't know if someone else has already
mentioned it--) is Gloria Steinem's first book--I don't remember the title--
but in it she discusses the hardships of living with her mother's mental
BTW, she is scheduled to be on Arsenio Hall tonight (Tuesday, May 17)
Rosa Maria Pegueros
University of Rhode Island
Date: Tue, 17 May 1994 23:10:25 -0600
From: joan r saks berman <jberman@POLARIS.UNM.EDU>
Subject: women & Madness
>Other movies include the Cuban film from the sixties, "Lucia."  It's three
>segments in history, each with a woman named Lucia.  The first segment,
>taking place in the 19th century has a madwoman as a character, and Lucia
>becomes "mad" at the end because of betrayal by a man.  There's another
>movie, others may remember the name, it's from France, and is the trial
>and flashbacks about two women, strangers to each other, who kill a man
>who comes into the same store where they are.
>Joan R. Saks Berman, jberman@polaris.unm.edu
Date: Wed, 18 May 1994 09:12:11 -0500 (CDT)
From: Felicia Bender <C391738@MIZZOU1.BITNET>
Subject: RE: women and madness
Another wonderful movie about women and madness is Jane Campion's _Angel
at My Table_, about the writer Janet Frame.
                                             Felicia Bender
Date: Wed, 18 May 1994 10:48:19 -0600
From: Barbara Lantz <bl13@POSTOFFICE.MAIL.CORNELL.EDU>
Subject: women and madness
Another film related to this topic is 'A Killing in a Small Town',
with Barbara Hershey as a Texas housewife who kills the wife of
her former lover.  It's a courtroom drama with Hal Holbrook as
psychiatrist and Brian Dennehey as defense attorney and based on
a true story.
-Barbara Lantz [bl13@cornell.edu]
Date: Wed, 18 May 1994 10:37:43 -0500
From: Sandra K Herzan <herz0001@GOLD.TC.UMN.EDU>
Subject: RE: women & Madness
>  There's another
> >movie, others may remember the name, it's from France, and is the trial
> >and flashbacks about two women, strangers to each other, who kill a man
> >who comes into the same store where they are.
> >
> >Joan R. Saks Berman, jberman@polaris.unm.edu
> >
If I'm remembering correctly I think the film you mention is a Dutch film
called A Question of Silence.
Sandy Herzan
University of Minnesota
Date: Wed, 18 May 1994 14:20:57 -0300
From: Cecilia Maria B Sardenberg <cecisard@SUNRNP.UFBA.BR>
Subject: RE: Women and madness, request for summary
An interesting article is Maria Ramas' "Freud's Dora, Dora's Hysteria",
found in J.L.Newton, M.P.Ryan & J.R.Walkowitz (eds), SEX AND CLASS IN
WOMEN'S HISTORY, London: Routledge, 1983:72-113.
I would also recommend excerpts from THE DIARY OF VIRGINIA WOOLF. There
is a condensed version, but since my copy is in Portuguese (a Brazilian
edition), I don't have the references in English. Sorry !
Cecilia Sardenberg
Date: Wed, 18 May 1994 13:41:32 -0700
From: Brandy Parris <bparris@SEATTLEU.EDU>
Subject: RE: Women and Madness
This is a very interesting batch of material.  I came in halfway so don't
know if anyone has yet mentioned Tennessee Williams; it seems obvious,
especially "Suddenly Last Summer."  Another interesting related book is
the recent autobiography of Anne Sexton.  The writer's name escapes at the
moment, but the book came out in 1992.
Date: Wed, 18 May 1994 17:57:30 -0500
From: Zoya Fansler <FANSLER@UMBC2.UMBC.EDU>
Subject: RE: women & Madness
>If I'm remembering correctly I think the film you mention is a Dutch film
>called A Question of Silence.
        I would like to second the recommendation of _A Question of Silence_.
It is an *excellent* film, originally released in 1978, but available on video
in the U.S. from Embassy Home Entertainment.  Here's the description from my
library catalog:  An extraordinary murder is committed by three women, all
strangers to each other.  During the trial, their deep seated rage towards the
male-dominated society in which they live stuns the courtroom.  The judge
appoints a woman psychiatrist to study the case, and she gradually comes to
understand and sympathize with the three women and to question her own nature.
Zoya Fansler
University of Maryland Baltimore County
Date: Thu, 19 May 1994 09:03:17 -0600 (CST)
From: Rebecca Hill <hillx018@MAROON.TC.UMN.EDU>
Subject: RE: women and madness
   I think I originally sent this message to someone personally by
mistake. I wanted, however, to recommend the film "Committed" by Lynne
Tillman and Sheila McLaughlin which is distributed by "Women Make Movies."
Someone, wrote that it did not work as well as the Hollywood
film "Frances," but I beg to differ! I think the film works extremely
well- I saw it when I was in high-school and "got it."
   In addition, you could use it to introduce
students to the whole world of feminist avant-garde film making and film
theory. So often, we as feminists critique mainstream media, but don't
often enough support (in the classroom anyway) feminist work that is
somewhat outside the cultural mainstream!-Rebecca Hill
Date: Thu, 19 May 1994 09:07:46 -0600 (CST)
From: Rebecca Hill <hillx018@MAROON.TC.UMN.EDU>
Subject: RE: women and madness
On Mon, 16 May 1994 13:52:16 -0600, constance morris shortlidge wrote:
>Hi. There was a great Masterpiece Theater presentation several years ago,
>sorry the name escapes me perhaps someone else can remember it, about a
>young woman who is committed to an institution of 60 years for being
>defiant toward her father and the mores of his generation (1920s/30s).
>She is released after all those years into the care of her nephew and the
>story is about her coming to herself, and the bonding that occurs with the
>nephew's wife.  It is also a generational look at defiant women and the
>penalties for such actions.  It is really wonderful. Constance M
>Shortlidge, stlidge@hydra.unm.edu
the film is called "She's Been Away" and stars Peggy Ashcroft...also the
woman who was "Sarah" in PBS series "Jewel in the Crown" and I think
Miranda Richardson as the young Auntie. It's great and was also released
in theaters as a film!
-Rebecca Hill
Date: Thu, 19 May 1994 12:05:39 -0600
From: Barbara Lantz <bl13@POSTOFFICE.MAIL.CORNELL.EDU>
Subject: women & madness
I just thought of another related work, this time a novel by Mary Morris
called 'A Dangerous Woman', a heartbreaking piece about a smalltown girl
perceived by her community as strange, ineffectual, and is therefore treated
as an outcast.  It's less about mental health institutions and more about
how communities categorize people in such a way as to contribute to their
'madness'.  Very moving.  Very disturbing.  Thoroughly credible.  Sigh.
-Barbara <bl13@cornell.edu>
Date: Thu, 19 May 1994 11:59:52 -0700
From: Women's Studies Correspondence <WST@OREGON.UOREGON.EDU>
Subject: RE: women and madness
Peggy Ashcroft also played Barbie Bachelor--again a very defiant sort, at
least by the end of it--in The Jewel in the Crown; and it was Geraldine
James who played Sarah Layton in Jewel and also the nephew's wife in
She's Been Away.
Date: Thu, 19 May 1994 13:32:59 -0700
From: Brandy Parris <bparris@SEATTLEU.EDU>
Subject: RE: Women and Madness
I wrote yesterday about the Anne Sexton bio.  The author is Diane
Middlebrook.  I would also like to add that in addition to Jane Camion's
"Angel at my Table," an excellent film, her movie "Sweetie."  "Sweetie" is
a little more contemporary and a little more funky than "Angel" but just
as worthy.
Some people have shown interest in receiving a compiled list when it is
complete.  Add me please:  Brandy Parris  bparris@seattleu.edu  Thanks!
Date: Thu, 19 May 1994 14:03:23 -0700
From: "Marilyn P. Safir" <safirm@U.WASHINGTON.EDU>
Subject: RE: Women and Madness
Angel at my table is written by an Australian Author.  It is part of a
Trilogy.  This brilliant talented woman was Hospilatized, recieved
electroshock therapy and had been scheduled for a surgical lobotomy when
the authorities discoverred that she was a published autho.r  Her case
was reviewed. She was eventually rleased. I can't remember her name but
these books which tell her story should certainly be added. Marliyn Safir
Date: Thu, 19 May 1994 18:02:29 -0600
From: kim Loutzenhiser Pohle <LOUT2KK@SLUVCA.SLU.EDU>
Subject: RE: women and madness
Girl Inerrupted is another book that might be of interest.
Date: Thu, 19 May 1994 19:18:56 -0400
From: Hyacinth <phil020@CSC.CANTERBURY.AC.NZ>
Subject: An angel at my table
Important correction - An angel at my table is an autobiography
about a New Zealand woman, Janet Frame. If I recall correctly it is
set in Otago - which is further South from Christchurch, where I am
now, in Dunedin? Anyway, that's irrelevant, it is a true portrayal
of life in NZ earlier on this century - right down to the treatment
in mental institutions.
Christine Greenfield
Date: Fri, 20 May 1994 00:14:30 -0400
Subject: RE: Women and Madness
Marilyn Safir is thinking about Jane Campion's film "Angel at my Table"
which is a trilogy about the life of New Zealand novelist Jeanne Frame (sp?)-
a good suggestion for this hugely interesting topic.  Ditto to the request
for a summary of all these goodies.
Mary Ann Hinsdale, women
Women's Studies, College of the Holy Cross
Date: Sat, 21 May 1994 10:07:53 -0400 (EDT)
From: JManlowe@AOL.COM
Subject: RE: women and madness
I promised to summarize my findings on women and the discourse of
deviance/"psychopathology".  I am thrilled to see that the women and madness
findings will be summarized so I won't entirely  pre-duplicate that list.
 Here's what I have found on the list:
A Question of Silence
A Woman Under the Influence
I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can
The Snake Pit
Fictional Books:
Yellow Wallpaper
The Butterfly Ward
The Color Purple
Non-Fiction/Scholarly Books:
The Loony Bin
Trauma and Recovery
Bonds of Love
Sister Outsider
Black Women's Health Book: Speaking for Ourselves
The Habit of Surviving: Black Women's Strategies for Life
Borderline Personality Disorder and Childhood Abuse
Women and Madness
Thinking Critically About Research on Sex and Gender
Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery
Personality and Psychopathology
Changing Our Minds: Lesbian Feminism & Psychology
Women's Madness: Misogyny or Mental Illness
"K is Mentally ill" in  Texts, Facts, and Femininity
The Conceptual Practices of Power
See the Nat'l Clearing House for the Defense of Battered Women
Unruly Practices: Power, Discourse, and Gender in Contemporary     Social
Good luck and thanks for all of your great suggestions!
Providence, RI
Date: Sat, 21 May 1994 11:12:07 -0600 (CST)
From: Bridgett Williams <bwilliam@VAXA.WEEG.UIOWA.EDU>
Subject: RE: women and madness
Two more suggestions (I'm new to the list, so I hope these don't
duplicate what's already been said) -- in film, "She's Been Away"
and in non-fiction, "Girl Interrupted".  Our feminist reading group
is using both of these this summer...
Good luck with your project,
Bridgett Williams
U of Iowa, History Dept.
Date: Mon, 23 May 1994 01:08:49 -0400
From: Deborah Stearns <stearns@CATTELL.PSYCH.UPENN.EDU>
Subject: RE: women and madness
Jennifer--Thanks for summarizing the suggestions from the list.  May I also
add another scholarly work?  I really enjoyed _The Female Malady:  Women,
Madness and English Culture, 1830-1980_ by Elaine Showalter, 1985,
Penguin Books.  She does a good job of detailing the gender-specific
treatment and conception of madness historically, and made a lot of
points I had never thought of about gender and psychopathology.
Deborah Stearns
Date: Tue, 24 May 1994 13:40:20 -0400
Subject: RE: Women and Madness
I have enjoyed the offerings under this heading and look forward to the list (I
hope you will post it to the WMSL-L when it is complete.
        Literature is not my forte, but Marge Piercy's WOMAN ON THE EDGE OF
TIME and Doris Lessing's THE GOLDEN NOTEBOOK are two standout entries, both of
which I have used in upper-level classes and students seem to appreciate.
        I've been most interested in the contenders for film depictions.  What
might be called *serious* analyses of women and madness that leap to mind all
seem to be "biopics" rather than fictional evocations brought to the screen.
        *Story of Adele H* (French, Truffaut, 1975) and
        *Camille Claudel* (French, Nuytten, 1989) make a nice pair examining
                the romantic obsessional daughter of Victor Hugo and the lover
                of Auguste Rodin.
        *Frances* (US, Clifford, 1982) A bit heavy-handed and with fictional
                elements (unnecessary) in Frances Farmer's harrowing life
        *The Three Faces of Eve* (US, Johnson, 1957) Good performance by Joann
                Woodward in now-dated exploration of multiple -personality.
        *The Legend of Lizzie Borden* (US, Wendkos, 1975) In spite of the
                exploitative title and made-for-tv status, a serious entry.
        *I Never Promised You a Rose-Garden* (US, Page, 1977) About a teenage
                girl suffering from schizophrenia was based on a popular novel.
        *Lilith* (US, Rossen, Beatty) One of the best films based on a novel,
                but it might concentrate more than you wish on the male trainee
                rather than the schizophrenic woman he falls madly in love with
                (pun intended)
        If the issue is broadened out to include DEPICTIONS of women and
madness in mainstream films (which can't be taken seriously as explorations of
madness as a feminist issue, but which offer wonderful images to deconstruct as
societal representations of the issue, the following are worth considering:
        *Possessed* (US, Bernhardt, 1947) Crawford at her best
        *Seance on a Wet Afternoon* (GB, Forbes, 1964) A very good, nearly
                great film.
        *Belle de Jour* (FR, Bunuel, 1967) A great film but centers on
                obsessional fantasies, not madness per se
        *Lizzie* (US, Haas, 1957) not a good film but well in the genre.
        *Don't Bother to Knock* (US, Baker, 1952) You remember, Marilyn Monroe
                as an insane baby-sitter.
        *The Shrike* (US, Ferrer, 1955) Artificial happy ending on a serious
                attempt at exploring domination and jealousy as the 50's saw
        Down a level there are a whole host of films that are worth
deconstructing, particularly en masse:
        *Whatever Happened to Baby Jane*,
        *Marnie* by Hitchcock,
        several Brian DePalma films, particularly *Sisters*,
        *David and Lisa* a good and serious film but the afflicted are younger
                than your study suggests,
        *Dark Mirror*,
        *Suddenly Last Summer*, but she's not really mad
        *The Snake Pit*--the great one about abuse in asylums.
        If you don't mind an editorial comment, films are likely to excel in
the depiction rather than analysis or explanation, since that is the forte of
film.  Novels should do a better job at evocation of the interior and causal
dynamics, which is what makes GOLDEN NOTEBOOK great and unfilmable.
        I'm not suggesting that many of the films mentioned above are ideal.
But even the lowest ranked ones, in their concentration on romantic obsession
and women portrayed as desperate or obsessional because they are thwarted in
their supposedly "natural" role as wife and mother says volumes about social
        By the way, one of your respondants recommended a novel called "A
Dangerous Woman".  That is also now out in film form and even hit the video
market this last week. Stars Debra Winger and Barbara Hersey.
        Hope some of this helps, though it may be off your track entirely.
/  Lawrence R. Ashley           BITNET:Ashleyl@SNYCORVA
/  Department of Philosophy     INTERNET:Ashleyl@SNYCORVA.CORTLAND.EDU
/  125 DeGroat Hall             SUNY DECnet:SCORVA::Ashleyl
/  SUNY College at Cortland     Bus. Phone: (607) 753-2015
/  P.O. Box 2000                Home Phone: (607) 753-0058
/  Cortland, New York, 13045    Fax by prearrangement to home phone.
Date: Mon, 30 May 1994 09:49:01 -0400 (EDT)
From: JManlowe@AOL.COM
Subject: RE: women and madness
Earlier this month Vicky Borgia brought up an NPR interview with Ally Light,
the creator of the documentary "Dialogues with Madwomen."  The film looks at
the "dark sides of the imagination" of 7 women with various diagnoses:
bipolar, schizophrenic, borderline, etc.
A friend told me that the film will be playing in Cambridge at The Brattle
Theatre from June 17 through the 23rd.  The times are 4, 6, 7, and 9pm with
mat. showings at 2:30 on weekends.  The cost is approx. $6.  I believe Ally
Light will be there to discuss the film afterward, though I'm not certain.
If any wmst-listers want to meet before one of the showings, that would be
great.  Just contact me through e-mail at jmanlowe@aol.com
Date: Fri, 24 Jun 1994 22:39:38 -0700
From: Bernadette Jones Palombo Claremont Graduate School

    I am a relatively new subscriber to the WMST-l (with much gratitude
to one of my colleagues at CGS, Karen Kidd) and have been enjoying immensely
(and benefiting intellectually) to the conversations and topics introduced
    I have just ordered and read the Index to "Women and Madness" and
noticed an absence in the bibliography of what I consider to be an outstanding
work by Jungian analyst, Dr. Linda Leonard.  So, I hope I'm not too late to
contribute one more addition to the list.
        Dr. Leonard's book, entitled MEETING THE MADWOMAN:  AN INNER
CHALLENGE FOR FEMININE SPIRIT, 1993, explores the mad woman archetype
through a Jungian feminist perspective, using ancient myths and fairy
tales, contemporary films and literature, and stories and dreams of
historical and contemporary women and men.
    I would highly recommend Dr. Leonard's work for an introductory women's
study course on "Women and Madness."
Bernadette Jones Palombo, Ph.D.
Claremont Graduate School
Visiting Scholar

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