Hysteria and Melancholy as Literary Style in the Works of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Kate Chopin, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Djuna Barnes

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Using the ideas of Kristeva and Lacan, this study examines works by four female authors to demonstrate that hysteria and elancholy/melancholia can be viewed as discourse and style when analyzing literary texts. This book contains three color photographs.


“...[The author] proves that the sadness and grief in these women writers’ texts help us to reconsider the gender attributions of hysteria and melancholy.”-Prof. Patrizia Lombardo, University of Geneva

“Her discussions of the competing views on madness and melancholy, illness and suffering, loss and memory, truth and knowledge, gender and language are sensitive and critical, revealing a scholar who is both generous toward others and independent in her own thinking. It is refreshing to read a text so free from dogma…”-Prof. Danuta Fjellestad, Uppsala University

“The author has a rare gift of both enriching the textual analysis by its theoretical foundation and at the same time challenging the theories by the vicissitudes of literary imagination and its discourses. Together with the attentive and engaged readings the mutual dialogue between texts and theories makes the book an important contribution to literary studies.”-Prof. Svend Erik Larsen, Aarhus University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations




Chapter One

Why Hysteria and Melancholy?
Hysteria: From History to Story
Melancholy: A Theory of Loss

Chapter Two
Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Question of “Knowing”

Chapter Three
Kate Chopin: An Awakening to Death

Chapter Four
Zelda Fitzgerald: Waltzing into Breakdown

Chapter Five
Djuna Barnes: Odour of Memory




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