Research project Migration and Mental Illness in Literature
This project offers a descriptiveand systematic analysis of the inter-relationship of migration and mental illness in literaturebefore the twentieth century. This theme constitutes both a significantpresencein literary history and an urgent topic of contemporary social relevance. The correlation of mental illness with migration, and the commonly associated experiences of political and cultural alienation, disempowerment, trauma and prejudice, is well establishedin the fields of psychiatry, ethnography and history. Although many literary textsstand witnessto the cognitive and emotional strains involved with geographical and cultural displacement, this questionhas not been systematically considered in contemporary literary studies or literary history. A handful of individual studies concern particular writers and their treatment of the inter-related experience of mental illness and migration, but nocomprehensive studyexists. This project fills that gap by investigatinghow literary texts articulate the associationof mental illness and migration, both over time and through in-depth case studies rooted in their literary,socio-cultural and historical contexts.