This demented land: representations of madness in contemporary Scottish fiction
2016-11-11T14:09:24Z (GMT) by
This thesis analyses representations of madness and mental illness in Scottish fiction from 1979. I begin by exploring the development of the relationship between Scottish identity on one hand, and madness and unreason on the other, arguing that in criticism of Scottish fiction, representations of schizoid experience are often understood as contributing to discourses centring on Scottish identity and the construction of a Scottish literary tradition. The contention of this thesis is that reading madness in this way often simplifies the complex relationship between representations of psychosis and other forms of unreason on the one hand, and political, philosophical and theoretical structures on the other. Its purpose is to proffer a corrective to this simplification and to develop a thematic mode of approaching Scottish writing. This thesis analyses representations of madness in the work of Alasdair Gray, Janice Galloway, Alan Warner, Elspeth Barker, Bella Bathurst, and Alice Thompson. In Chapter One, I discuss the relationship between madness, creativity and autonomy in Gray's Lanark, 1982, Janine and Poor Things; Chapter Two deals with the significance of traumatic experience to Janice Galloway's The Trick Is to Keep Breathing and Foreign Parts, and the environmental concerns of Alan Warner's Morvern novels form the basis of Chapter Three. The second section of the thesis deals with representations of madness in the work of three women authors. In my fourth chapter, I attempt to formulate an approach to Gothic stylistics by comparing the function of madness and other Gothic traits in Barker's O Caledonia and Bathurst's Special. The final chapter approaches Alice Thompson's enigmatic work by theorising how she aestheticises her concern with the limits of rational knowledge in The Existential Detective, The Falconer, and Pandora's Box. The purpose of this thesis is to place the writing of madness in Scotland within the context of broad literary and philosophical traditions. This contributes to the field of Scottish literary studies by widening its scope to think through questions raised by the representation of madness. In particular, it allows for the analysis of the ways these writers distinguish between madness and sanity, the nature of the distinction between reason and unreason, and the implications these questions have for wider epistemological inquiries into the nature of knowledge and narration. In doing so, it allows for engagement with current debates in literary theory, particularly feminist and ecologically-orientated criticism, affect theory and trauma, as well as asking how a concern with literary style and genre can contribute to readings of unreason.