[Edited Collection] "Their Lives A Storm Whereon They Ride": Writing with The Affective Disorders
The link between the affective disorders (depression and bipolar illness) and writing creativity goes back to Aristotle, who famously asked, "Why is it that all men who are outstanding in philosophy, poetry or the arts are melancholic?" Indeed, a fifteen-year study of writers at the Iowa Writers' Workshop found that 80 percent of the writers either lived with affective illness or had experienced an episode at some point in their lives (compared to 30 percent of non-writer controls). Writers and poets with known and suspected affective disorder span the centuries; the twentieth gave us Woolf, Hemingway, Dylan Thomas, Robert Lowell, Anne Sexton and David Foster Wallace, among many others.
I am seeking submissions for an edited collection of essays on writing with the affective disorders (depression and bipolar disorder). Affective illness is, in part, neurophysiological, genetic and deadly; its extreme emotional turbulence forms the "storm whereon they ride," in Byron's words. Writing with an affective disorder presents unique challenges, from intractable writing blocks (depression) to hypergraphia (mania). Rich metaphors abound. For William Styron, severe depression is "a fiercely overheated room with no exits -– the mind begins to think of oblivion," while Marya Hornbacher's manias result in "a cyclone of words."
Writers with affective disorders (anonymous or named) are encouraged to submit essays exploring their own writing processes and practices. Also welcome are scholarly essays from writers without affective disorders who have studied, taught, or learned from these writers; still other essays may challenge the myth of the "mad poet" and contemporary rhetorics of mental illness and disability.
Topics may include (but are not limited to):
• Personal stories of academic or creative writing with the illness;
• rhetorics of mental illness;
• rhetorics of disability;
• writing through the episodes;
• the ethos of mental illness;
• metaphors for the illness;
• writing blocks;
• affective episodes and invention
• paranoia and mania
• writing and the body;
• affective illness in literature;
• tropes of mental illness;
• questioning mental illness,
• the anti-psychiatry movement and "talking back";
• gender, culture and the affective disorders;
• affective illness in composition studies and pedagogy;
• depression and pathos;
• writing and memory;
• writing and stigma;
• anonymity, professional life and breaking the silence;
• writing and psychopharmacology;
• writing and neuroscience;
• writing and the emotions;
• suicidality and writing;
• the role of support (psychiatry, therapists, family, colleagues) in writing.
Send a 500-word proposal by March 1, 2012 (full articles due August 1, 2012).
Please title proposal files "CFP Affective Disorders" and
email to: firstname.lastname@example.org by March 1, 2012.