Beyond Crisis: (Un)Doing Resilience at the Intersections of Girlhood and Mad Studies (NeMLA 2023) (NeMLA 2023)
Niagara Falls Convention Center
Event: NeMLA 2023
Insights from girlhood studies underscore that feminine adolescence is dually construed as a site of crisis (“girls-in-crisis”) and empowerment (“girl power”) (Gonick 2006; Harris 2004; Pipher 1994). Consistent with feminist problematizations of ‘resilience’ as a governance strategy (Brown 2016; Ahmed 2017:189), neoliberal conceptualizations of girlhood demand capability, resiliency, and flexibility, while any deviation from “normative development” is typically therapized and “managed back toward the path of success” (Harris 2004 p.36). For Mad, mentally ill, and neurodivergent girls, the affective registers of madness – as interruptions in “normative development” - constitute sites of intervention, surveillance, dismissal, and trivialization (Doward 2017; Shields-Dobson 2015; van daalen-Smith 2008). While foregrounding – and interrogating – that social anxiety about girlhood “does not… get conferred equally or in the same way on all girls” (Gonick 2003:3), this panel will seek to trouble the bifurcation of “girl power” versus “girls in crisis” at the site of Mad girlhoods. Underscoring the urgency of Mad and disabled perspectives in conversations about “resilience” more broadly, this panel asks: how is girls’ madness understood, negotiated, and responded to? How do girls negotiate institutions and professionals “who are socially sanctioned to monitor and manage girls in pain” (Shields-Dobson 2015 p.150)? And, importantly, how do Mad girls embody, practice, negotiate, and challenge resilience?