Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Woolf's alternative medicine: Narrative consciousness as social treatment
by McFadden, Jessica Mason, M.A., Western Illinois University, 2014, 191; 1572942
Abstract (Summary)

The primary objective of this thesis project is to investigate Woolf's narrative construction of consciousness and its enactment of resistance against the clinical model of cognitive normativity, using Mrs. Dalloway. This objective is part of an effort to identify the ways in which Woolf's writing can be used, foundationally, to challenge the contemporary language of clinical diagnosis, as it functions to maintain power imbalances and serves as a mechanism of the rigid policing of normativity. It is also intended to support the suggestion that Woolf's novels and essays make a valuable contribution, when advanced by theory—including disability theory, to scientific conversations on the mind. One major benefit is that doing so encourages border-crossing between disciplines and views. More specifically, this project examines the ways in which Mrs. Dalloway resists the compulsory practice of categorizing and dividing the mind. The novel, I assert, supports an alternative narrative treatment, not of the mind but, of the normative social forces that police it. It allows and encourages readers to reframe stigmatizing, divisive, and power-based categories of cognitive difference and to resist the scientific tendency to dismiss pertinent philosophical and theoretical treatments of consciousness that are viable in literature. The critical portion of the project is concerned with the way in which Mrs. Dalloway addresses consciousness and challenges medical authority. Its implications urge the formation of an investigative alliance between Woolf's work and psychology that will undermine the power differential, call attention to and dismantle the stigma of "mental illness," and propel clinical treatment into new diagnostic practices.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mossman, Mark A.
Commitee: Banash, David, Iwanicki, Christine E.
School: Western Illinois University
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: MAI 54/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, British and Irish literature
Keywords: Disability theory, Madness, Mental illness, Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
Publication Number: 1572942
ISBN: 978-1-321-48635-3
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