Philadelphia / Virtual
Organization: Northeast MLA
How does contemporary literature respond to and reimagine psychotherapeutic narratives of depression? What insight into the experience of depression and the depressed self do literary texts offer that may be lost in psychotherapeutic accounts and vice versa? How do literary and psychotherapeutic discourses of depression, particularly with respect to etiologies and target psychological and affective states, complement each other? How do they resist each other? Does literature endow psychotherapy with existential significance and epistemological legitimacy and/or dismiss it with irritation as in Elif Batuman’s The Idiot? What narrative possibilities and problems do literary texts discover in the modes of psychotherapy prevalent today? How do literary texts problematize the preferred vocabulary and metaphors of psychotherapy (e.g. depression as a broken leg in cognitive behavioral therapy)? What insight into the phenomenology of depression and the depressed subject do literary texts offer that may be lost in psychotherapeutic accounts and vice versa?
And how do the answers to this question vary by literary genre and subject position in structures of race, class, gender, and sexuality? The psychotherapeutic discourses examined may include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, psychodynamic therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, mindfulness, etc. This panel welcomes papers that will contribute to elucidating a rich dialogue between literary and psychotherapeutic discourses of depression in the 21st century.