Department

Department of English

First Advisor

Dr. Michelle Jarman

Description

From ancient Greek tragedy to Dexter, mental illness has long been a dominant theme in popular culture. I investigate the way that mental illness has been positioned in our society by discussing how Hollywood converted autobiographical accounts such as Girl, Interrupted into sensational films, and in the process enforced stereotypes while denying the legitimacy of the voices of people diagnosed as mentally ill. An important part of this discussion will be formulating an understanding of the way that disability is a fluid concept that is rooted as much in social realities as biological ones, and that popular culture is not only created by social perceptions, but in turn creates new ones. Looking at the destructive elements that recur in many filmic representations of mental illness is ultimately an important tool in restructuring our troubled cultural understanding of where psychiatric difference fits.

Comments

Oral Presentation, UW Honors Program

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The Madwoman in the Movies: Hollywood’s Appropriation of Mental Illness

From ancient Greek tragedy to Dexter, mental illness has long been a dominant theme in popular culture. I investigate the way that mental illness has been positioned in our society by discussing how Hollywood converted autobiographical accounts such as Girl, Interrupted into sensational films, and in the process enforced stereotypes while denying the legitimacy of the voices of people diagnosed as mentally ill. An important part of this discussion will be formulating an understanding of the way that disability is a fluid concept that is rooted as much in social realities as biological ones, and that popular culture is not only created by social perceptions, but in turn creates new ones. Looking at the destructive elements that recur in many filmic representations of mental illness is ultimately an important tool in restructuring our troubled cultural understanding of where psychiatric difference fits.