A Literary Perspective on Home Confinement and Mental Disorders

A Literary Perspective on Home Confinement and Mental Disorders

Ms Mathilde VialardZoom

Sensation fiction, a literary genre involving the presence of crimes and mystery within the Victorian domestic setting, was highly popular in the mid-nineteenth century because of its depiction of 'mad' characters. Many scholars interested in this genre have tended to focus on the topic of madness, while other less melodramatic aspects of mental health have been left out of the mainstream research. In this presentation, I wish to discuss the various mental illnesses that characters suffer from in these novels, including the conditions of hypochondria, monomania and melancholia. I will address the often-overlooked issue of domestic confinement in the Victorian home, which is a central element in these novels. In the absence of any necessity to perform work, both women and men of the Upper Class mostly spent their time inside the home and this sedentary condition had a detrimental impact on their mental health.

In this paper, I wish to argue that approaching sensation novels from a Medical and Health Humanities perspective can offer new insight into individuals’ experiences of mental illness. The intersection between health and literature allows us to engage in the affective dimension of mental illness that sometimes stay invisible in purely medical writings.

University of Nottingham, UK
Fri 09:30 - 11:00
Creative Methodologies, Mental Health
Standard paper