Depression and Narrative

Telling the Dark

Edited by Hilary Clark
Introduction by Hilary Clark
Notes by Hilary Clark

Subjects: Psychological Approaches To Literature, Mental Health, Psychotherapy, Health And Society, Social Psychology
Paperback : 9780791475706, 274 pages, July 2009
Hardcover : 9780791475690, 274 pages, October 2008

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Depression and Narrative
Hilary Clark
I. Negotiating Illness Identity and Stigma
1. My Symptoms, Myself: Reading Mental Illness Memoirs for Identity Assumptions
Jennifer Radden
2. The Language of Madness: Representing Bipolar Disorder in Kay Redfield Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind and Kate Millett’s The Loony-Bin Trip
Debra Beilke
3. Winter Tales: Comedy and Romance Story-Types in Narratives of Depression
Brenda Dyer
4. “Repenting Prodigal”: Confession, Conversion, and Shame in William Cowper’s Adelphi
Hilary Clark
5. Leonid Andreev’s Construction of Melancholy
Frederick H. White

II. Gender and Depression
6. Storying Sadness: Representations of Depression in the Writings of Sylvia Plath, Louise Glück, and Tracy Thompson
Suzanne England, Carol Ganzer, and Carol Tosone
7. “Addiction got me what I needed”: Depression and Drug Addiction in Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Memoirs
Joanne Muzak
8. Narrating the Emotional Woman: Uptake and Gender in Discourses on Depression
Kimberly Emmons
9. Fact Sheets as Gendered Narratives of Depression
Linda M. McMullen
III. Depression across the Media
10. A Dark Web:Depression, Writing, and the Internet
Kiki Benzon
11. A Meditation on Depression, Time, and Narrative Peregrination in the Film The Hours
Diane R. Wiener
12. Therapy Culture and TV: The Sopranos as a Depression Narrative
Deborah Staines
IV. Literary Therapies
13. For the Relief of Melancholy: The Early Chinese Novel as Antidepressant
Andrew Schonebaum
14. Manic-Depressive Narration and the Hermeneutics of Countertransference: Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Mark A. Clark

V. Depression and the Limits of Narrative
15. Writing Self/Delusion:Subjectivity and Scriptotherapy in Emily Holmes Coleman’s The Shutter of Snow
Sophie Blanch
16. Depressing Books: W. G. Sebald and the Narratives of History
Eluned Summers-Bremner
List of Contributors

How the story of depression gets told in print, on screen, and online.


Depression and Narrative examines stories of depression in the context of recent scholarship on illness and narrative, which up to this point has largely focused on physical illness and disability. Contributors from a number of disciplinary perspectives address these narrative accounts of depression, by both sufferers and those who treat them, as they appear in memoirs, diaries, novels, poems, oral interviews, fact sheets, blogs, films, and television shows. Together, they explore the stories we tell about depression: its contested causes; its gendering; the transformations in identity that it entails; and the problems it presents for communication, associated as it is with stigma and shame.

Unlike certain physical illnesses, such as cancer, depression is stigmatized—sometimes as a nonproblem (the sufferer should "snap out of it") and sometimes as the slippery slope to madness. Thus, depression narratives have their work cut out for them. This book highlights the work these stories do, including bringing meaning to sufferers, explaining depression, justifying therapies and treatments, and reducing the burden of shame—accounting for a suffering that is, in the end, unaccountable.

Hilary Clark is Professor of English at the University of Saskatchewan. She is the coeditor (with Joseph Adamson) of Scenes of Shame: Psychoanalysis, Shame, and Writing, also published by SUNY Press, and the author of The Dwelling of Weather; More Light; and Two Heavens.


"Clark has assembled an impressive collection of 16 essays treating the broad psychological topic of depression and how stories shape and dismantle it … This collection will further the current academic interest in disability and illness studies and will appeal to readers across a range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. " — CHOICE

"…this is a useful collection of papers that brings the discussion of the role of narrative of mental illness forward. " — Metapsychology

"The number of scholarly books on depression is growing, perhaps because mood disorders are now so common, but Depression and Narrative is uncommonly interesting and insightful. Hilary Clark has assembled a volume that focuses on how writers attempt to describe anguish that is at times indescribable. Combining theoretical sophistication and close reading, the contributors cast much light on a dark subject. " — Jeffrey Berman, author of Dying to Teach: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Learning