Wednesday, April 21, 2010

BBC4 - "Madwomen In the Attic"

BBC4 currently has a fascinating 30 minute documentary available to listen to called "Madwomen in the Attic".

It examines how the mad heroines of 19th century Victorian fiction may not have been clinically insane, but were suffering from the repression - sexual and social - of the time.

An article on the BBC News site entitled "Were the 'mad' heroines of literature really sane?" is an introduction for the documentary:

Notions of female insanity in the 1850s included "unrestrained behaviour," often merely Victorian-speak for female sexuality.
The documentary also delves into how these descriptions of insanity informed society's view of mental illness, posits what illness these heroines may have been suffering from if they were indeed "suffering from madness", and how repression and being committed to an asylum or attic may have tipped a boisterous lady over into the condition they were accused of.

"Attics are where wives who cannot be contained, who are over-sexualised and unruly are stored away," says writer and psychotherapist, Adam Phillips.
And would not anyone have then gone mad, locked up in an attic with gin-sodden Grace Poole?
The documentary is available for only 7 days on the BBC Radio site, so be quick.

Hat Tip to SFSignal.

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