CFP: The Neurological Turn and Contemporary Fiction, AMH Conference, Keele

Association of Medical Humanities Annual Conference, Keele University, 28-30 June 2017.

 Panel session Call for Papers: The Neurological Turn and Contemporary Fiction (Thursday 29 June).

Panel Chair: Dr Nick Bentley (Keele University)

Narrative fiction has traditionally been viewed as a literary space that lends itself to the exploration of the psychological motivations and behaviours of characters with respect to the societies they inhabit and others with whom they form relationships. The use of interior monologue; the treatment of time, history and memory; and the rendering of social and cultural environments have allowed novelists to examine the psychological relationships between people and their inhabited worlds.

A recent trend in literary fiction, however, has begun to examine the way in which the neurological has moved to the centre of considerations about where human consciousness lies: the mind or the brain. The ‘neuro-novel’, as it has been dubbed by writers such as Marco Roth and others, represents this response in fiction to the neurological turn in the clinical sciences. Novels such as Ian McEwan’s Saturday, Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and Jonathon Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn have all included characters who suffer from clinical conditions (Huntingdon’s Disease, autism, Tourette’s syndrome).

This panel seeks 15-20 minute papers that explore fictional representations of such conditions and disorders. Topics that might be considered are:

  • the accuracy of the representation of mental health conditions in narrative fiction;
  • the way in which authors use narrative techniques and structures in order to convey the experience of mental health conditions;
  • the examination of individual conditions such as schizophrenia, personality disorders, autism etc.;
  • the representation of psychiatric and other mental health services
  • the use of mental health conditions as metaphors for exploring wider socio-political concerns, for example, schizophrenia in Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club;
  • papers on individual novels and/or authors that speak to the theme of the panel.

Please email abstracts to the panel chair Dr Nick Bentley, n.bentley@keele.ac.uk by 1st February 2017.

More information can be found at the Conference website.

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