Novel Thinking: Representations of Mind in Literature and Culture

deadline for submissions: 
May 15, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Melissa Dickson / University of Queensland

Novel Thinking: Representations of Mind in Literature and Culture

A One Day Hybrid Conference at the University of Queensland

Monday, 26th June 2023


In his 1907 reading of Wilhelm Jenson’s novel Gradiva, Sigmund Freud declared creative writers to be ‘valuable allies’ to the discipline of psychiatry, whose ‘knowledge of the mind’ was ‘far in advance of us everyday people, for they draw upon sources which we have not yet opened up for science’.[1] Freud’s insistence that literature discloses and gives artistic expression to the workings of the subconscious emphasised a close alliance between literature and psychoanalysis in their shared interest in the human mind. Given that the fields of literature and psychiatry are both deeply invested in the nature of subjectivity, agency, and mental states, as well as the shaping force of unconscious operations on the construction of identity, it is perhaps not surprising that each provides a different form of evidence of psychological operations. This one day, hybrid conference at the University of Queensland will interrogate literature’s capacities not only to reflect and imaginatively to illustrate states of mind but also anticipate and actively inform our understandings of consciousness. Our central focus will be the question of how to know and represent the inner workings of one’s own and others’ minds.


Topics might include but are not limited to:

  • Realist, Gothic, Fantastic, Sci-Fi or Visionary explorations of individual psychology
  • Representations of states of consciousness including dreams, visions, hallucinations, and nightmares
  • Subjectivities in modes of narrative discourse
  • Constructions of individual or collective identities in narrative
  • Representations of animal or non-human minds and identities
  • Explorations of altered or distorted mental states
  • Representations of mental illness


Proposals from researchers across a range of disciplines and stages of career are welcome. Speakers and participants are welcome to join in person or via zoom.  Please send proposals of no more than 300 words accompanied by a short bio to Dr Melissa Dickson at by Monday, 15th May 2023.

[1] Sigmund Freud, ‘Delusions and Dreams in Jensen’s Gradiva’, The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, trans. and ed. James Strachey, 24 vols (London: Hogarth, 1959), 9, pp. 7-93, (p. 8).