'Pressured Speech': The Work of Narrative in Manic-Depressive Storytelling Open Access

Levy, Alyssa R. (2009)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/ng451h930?locale=en


'Pressured Speech':
The Work of Narrative in Manic-Depressive Storytelling
By Alyssa R. Levy
' Pressured Speech' investigates how, why, and to what effect narrative matters to
people living with manic depression and other mental illnesses. It uses 'the work of
narrative' as an analytical substrate in examining a subset of fiction, memoir, and
performative personal narrative that exemplifies manic-depressive storytelling's
distinctive verve and politico-therapeutic value. This collection of stories reveals that
manic-depressive storytellers most often employ narrative to negotiate identity and
selfhood, epistemic and embodied experience, and political subjectivity once transformed
by the illness's attendant socio-medical processes. 'Pressured Speech' registers these
indices of narrative function in executing its textual analyses along three axes of critical
inquiry that deliberate the following questions: What does storying manic-depressive
illness do, materially and metaphysically, for people living with the illness? What kinds
of storytelling best serve these ends and under what conditions? How might the work of
narrative revealed in manic-depressive storytelling be extrapolated for use in
contemporary mental health politics, policy, and praxis?
In mapping its selected texts' unique responses to these guiding questions,
'Pressured Speech' sets some general parameters for all types of progressive narrative
enterprise in mental health domains. It determines that storytelling modalities that are
dynamic, didactic, and morally and politically self-aware best serve the work of narrative
it explicates in its materials of study. Furthermore, 'Pressured Speech' concludes that
individual and institutional mental health storytellers' actualization of narrative's political
and therapeutic potential rests in their recognition of 'the ethical, 'the political,' and 'the
interdisciplinary' as imminent venues and values for twenty-first century narrative work.

'Pressured Speech':
The Work of Narrative in Manic-Depressive Storytelling
Alyssa R. Levy
B.A., University of Texas at Austin, 2000
M.A., University of Texas at Austin, 2003
Advisor: Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Ph.D.
A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the
James. T. Laney School of Graduate Studies of Emory University
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
in Women's Studies

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Chapter One
The Work of Narrative in Manic-Depressive Storytelling 1

Chapter Two
Selfhood, Identity, and the Bipolar Storyteller:
Terri Cheney's Manic 32

Chapter Three
'Hallelujah Anyhow':
Bebe Moore Campbell's 72 Hour Hold 71

Chapter Four
Hysterical Strength:
Carrie Fisher's Wishful Drinking 109

Chapter Five
Mad People Without Instruments 142

Chapter Six
Conclusion 171

Bibliography 206

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