Madwomen in Social Justice Movements, Literatures, and Art

Jessica Lowell Mason, Nicole Crevar (Eds.)

by Christina Foisy (Center for Addiction and Mental Health, Ontario, Canada), Nadia Steven Rysing , Chloe Leung (University of Edinburgh, UK), Maria Rovito (Penn State University, Harrisburg), Kyéra Sterling , Stevie Scheurich (Bowling Green State University), Nicole Rizzo (Indiana University Bloomington), Nicole Turner (Georgia State University), Kritika Sharma (University of Delhi, India), Sonakshi Srivastava (Guru Gobind Singh Indaprastha University, Delhi, India), Janna Brown , J. M. Gagnon , Erin Soros (Simon Fraser University), Brittani Smit (Arcadia University, South Africa), Jessica Lowell Mason (University at Buffalo), Riley Clare Valentine (Louisiana State University)

Purchase this book
$ 98
Availability: Available through resellers
currency displayed based on your location
(click here to change currency)

‘Madwomen in Social Justice Movements, Literatures, and Art’ extends Sandra Gilbert’s and Susan Gubar’s influential work, 'The Madwoman in the Attic' for the 21st century by revealing how madness as a category has been socially constructed and weaponized against disenfranchised voices. Featuring a new framework that includes work by activists, artists, and academics, this expertly edited collection draws on autoethnographic approaches, disability studies, and mad feminist discourse to center mad subjectivities and disrupt traditional structures of academia. In this way, ‘Madwomen’ reclaims the derogatory term “madness” and reveals ways in which women have been empowered by both their anger and their so-called disability, allowing them to think outside of rigid patriarchal frameworks and offer reparative alternatives. In so doing, this collection reveals that literature and art indeed have a social role to play—that they are, by virtue of their own madness, social justice agents informed by cultural circumstances and embodied experience alike.

Dr. Aimee Pozorski
Professor of English
Coordinator of the Racial Justice Certificate Program
Co-coordinator of the American Studies Program
Co-executive editor of Philip Roth Studies
Central Connecticut State University

In 'Madwomen in Social Justice Movements, Literatures, and Art', editors Nicole Crevar and Jessica Lowell Mason assemble a range of incisive and deeply feminist essays that reconsider and resituate the madwoman trope indelibly traced by Gilbert and Gubar. Drawing from texts as wide-ranging as Woolf’s 'Orlando', Janet Frame’s 'Faces in the Water', Zee Edgell’s 'Beka Lamb', Rayda Jacobs’ 'Joonie', and Haile Gerima’s 'Bush Mama', these contemporary considerations of the madwoman literary trope illuminate the continued urgency and necessity of grappling with the mad, the crazy, the uncontainable, in literary texts. Most exciting about this collection are the creative “mad disruptions” sprinkled between the chapters. The writing in these chapters—innovative, challenging, energizing—reminds readers why literary arts endure and what is at stake in challenging ideas surrounding women and madness, particularly today.

Dr. Julie R. Enszer, editor and publisher of ‘Sinister Wisdom’

Unparalleled in its scope and variety, this volume makes an essential contribution to mad studies, feminist studies, and their generative intersections.

Dr. David Schmid
Department of English
University at Buffalo

'Madwomen in Social Justice Movements, Literatures, and Art' boldly reasserts the importance of the Madwoman more than four decades after the publication of Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar’s seminal work in feminist literary criticism, 'The Madwoman in the Attic'. Since Gilbert and Gubar’s work was published, the Madwoman has reemerged to do important work, rock the academic boat, and ignite social justice agency inside and outside of academic spaces, moving beyond the literary context that defined the Madwoman in the late 20th century.

In this dynamic collection of essays, scholars, creative writers, and Mad activists come together to (re)define the Madwoman in pluralistic and expansive ways and to realize new potential in Mad agency. This collection blazes new directions of thinking through Madness as a gendered category, comprised of a combination of creative works that (re)imagine the figure of the Madwoman, speeches in which Mad-identifying artists and writers reclaim the label of “Madwoman,” and scholarly essays that articulate ambitious theories of the Madwoman.

The collection is an interdisciplinary scholarly resource that will appeal to multiple academic fields, including literary studies, disability studies, feminist studies, and Mad studies. Additionally, the work contributes to the countermovement against colonial, sanist, patriarchal, and institutional social practices that continue to silence women and confine them to the metaphorical attic. Appealing to a broad audience of readers, 'Madwomen in Social Justice Movements, Literatures, and Art' is a cutting-edge inquiry into the implications of Madness as a theoretical tool in which dissenting, deviant, and abnormal women and gender non-conforming writers, artists, and activists open the door to Mad futurities.

List of Figures
Erika Duncan

Nicole Crevar
Jessica Lowell Mason

Part I. Silencing the Madwoman

Chapter 1
[Mad Disruption] Working for Shakespeare’s Sister, Meditating on the Madwoman
Jessica Lowell Mason
University at Buffalo

Chapter 2
“Madness as a New Kind of Music”: Janet Frame’s Literary Soundscapes and Ethics of Listening Otherwise to Women’s Experiences of Electroshock in Faces in the Water
Christina Foisy
Center for Addiction and Mental Health, Ontario, Canada

Chapter 3
[Mad Disruption] Teeth: The Madwoman in the Conference
Erin Soros
Simon Fraser University

Chapter 4
Sub/Versions: Interrogating the Politics of Madness in Han Kang’s The Vegetarian
Sonakshi Srivastava
Guru Gobind Singh Indaprastha University, Delhi, India
Kritika Sharma
University of Delhi, India

Chapter 5
Madness as Discipline: Policing Interracial Relationships in South African and Caribbean Literature
Brittani Smit
Arcadia University, South Africa

Part II. Trauma and Testimony of the Madwoman

Chapter 6
[Mad Disruption] A Tendency to Exaggerate: On the Writing of Liar
Nadia Steven Rysing

Chapter 7
Mad time: On Temporality, Trauma, Hysterical Figures, and Liminal Shifters in Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse
Nicole Ann Rizzo
Indiana University Bloomington

Chapter 8
“The Time Had Come for Me to Understand”: Leonora Carrington and Narrativizing the Madwoman Through Traumatic Testimony in Down Below
Nicole K. Turner
Georgia State University

Chapter 9
[Mad Disruption] The Point of Unravel
Janna Brown

Chapter 10
Madly in Love: Objectum-Sexuality and the Limits of Legible Subjectivity
Stevie Scheurich
Bowling Green State University

Part III. (Re)Defining the Madwoman

Chapter 11
Neither “Mad” Nor “Woman”: Re-Dressing Identity Politics in Virginia Woolf’s Orlando
Chloe Leung
University of Edinburgh, UK

Chapter 12
We Got a Right to Be Mad: Haile Gerima’s Bush Mama and the Mad Black Woman
Kyéra Sterling
Independent Scholar

Chapter 13
[Mad Disruption] Case Study. Embracing Madness
Riley Clare Valentine
Louisiana State University

Chapter 14
The Bleeding Edge: Cutting, Mad Girls, and the Asylum in Young Adult Literature
Maria Rovito
Penn State University

Chapter 15
[Mad Disruption] Where these Maps Have Led Me
J. M. Gagnon
Herstory Writers Workshop

About the Editors and Contributors


Jessica Lowell Mason is a Doctoral Candidate (ABD) in Global Gender and Sexuality Studies, a Teaching Assistant at the University at Buffalo, and an instructor in the College Writing Program at Buffalo State College. She is a facilitator with the Herstory Writers Workshop, co-facilitating the ongoing workshop “Memoirs to (Re)Imagine Mental Healthcare,” and a fellow with the Northeast Modern Language Association. Mason is the co-founder of “Madwomen in the Attic,” a grassroots feminist mental health and madness literacy organization, founded in 2017 in Western New York. She has taught courses related to writing and rhetoric, gender, sexuality, culture, media literacy, feminist theory, and public policy for the past seven years. In 2014, Mason was awarded the Gloria Anzaldúa Rhetorician Award by the Conference on College Composition and Communication. Some of her poems, articles, and reviews have been published by 'Sinister Wisdom', 'Lambda Literary', 'Gender Focus', 'The Comstock Review', 'Diverse Voices Quarterly', 'Lavender Review', 'IthacaLit', 'The Feminist Wire', 'Mad in America', SUNY Buffalo’s 'Romance Studies Journal', 'Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy', and 'Praeger'. Her first full-length book of poetry, 'Straight Jacket', was published in 2019 by Finishing Line Press.

Nicole Crevar is a Doctoral Candidate (ABD) in English Literature and a Teaching Assistant at the University of Arizona. Her research centers on critiquing the larger power structures that plague our contemporary society and produce vast inequalities––e.g., the patriarchy, racism, and neoliberalism––and analyzing how those structures cause varying forms of trauma for individuals. During her doctoral coursework, Nicole earned a Ph.D. minor in Social, Cultural, and Critical theory, which included a seminar on Feminist Social Movements. However, her interest in mad studies and feminism extends back to her work and training as a Body Image Peer Leader during her undergraduate career. Her dissertation research on neoliberal trauma in contemporary American literature interrogates themes of social justice and mental health and relies heavily on trauma studies/theory. Nicole contributed a chapter, “Chicana Poetry and Activism via Digital Communities in ‘Poem 25 ~ Giving Voice,’” in 'Post-Humanist Nomadisms across non-Oedipal Spatiality' (Vernon Press, 2021).

Nicole is the Graduate Co-Director of Wildcat Writers (UArizona), a college-pathway, community-engagement program that partners Title I high school students (Tucson) with UA college writing students to foster unparalleled educational opportunities for underrepresented populations.

mental illness, mental health, trauma, sexual trauma, intergenerational trauma, racism, colonialism, disability justice, asylum, creative writing, identity politics, psychiatry, disability theory, foucault, sandra gilbert, susan gubar, feminist theory, mental health law, the madwoman in the attic, literary theory, political activism, mental health and art, art therapy, ableism, disability movement, disability, DSM, psychiatric diagnosis, sexuality, eating disorders, self-harm, postcolonial, postcolonial feminist theory, Black liberation, liberation movements, artist, leonora carrington, objectum sexuals, pathology, pathologized, insane, lunatic, insanity, darby penney, state mental hospital, mental hospital

Bibliographic Information

Book Title
Madwomen in Social Justice Movements, Literatures, and Art
Number of pages
Physical size
236mm x 160mm
Publication date
January 2023