The Forbidden Genre (Senior Thesis)

While serving as editor-in-chief of both the newspaper and political review at Wesleyan, I wrote a senior thesis that received honors from the College of Letters at Wesleyan University. My advisor was best-selling author Charles Barber, and the full 114 pages can be found here

Is 114 pages too big of an investment? Read an interview about the project here (second down), and check out the abstract below.


"The Forbidden Genre: The Evolution of the Psychiatric Memoir and the Narrativity of Madness Pre- and Post-DSM" analyzes the relationship between the diagnostic vocabulary of mental illness, popular culture, and memoirs to understand how people with mental illnesses conceive of and communicate a suffering that is of the mind yet uniquely impeded by it. The project establishes a preliminary canon and critiques it, from the privileged backgrounds of the authors to narrative techniques, and poses multiple trajectories—from the ubiquitous celebrity comeback memoir to a well researched atlas that seeks to educate the public and even mobilize citizens towards political action. Looking at Clifford Beers, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Menninger, William Styron, Susanna Kaysen, Elizabeth Wurtzel, Andy Behrman, Terrie Williams, Kay Redfield Jamison, Andrew Solomon, David Morris, and the TV shows The Sopranos and BoJack Horseman, the thesis takes a broad scope and encourages further scholarship in a nascent field that considers memoirs of madness as a genre: the psychiatric memoir.

A PDF version of the thesis is downloadable for free on WesScholar here.

Jake Lahut