Merry, Hannah Kathryn (2017) Fictional representations of dissociative identity disorder in contemporary American fiction. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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The representation of mental health disorders and syndromes has increased in contemporary literature, film and television. Characters with disorders and syndromes such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, autism and Asperger’s syndrome, Tourette’s syndrome, and dissociative identity disorder are common, leading to an increased critical engagement with these fictional texts. This thesis examines the representation of dissociative identity disorder (DID) in contemporary American fiction since 1994, concentrating on a small selection of texts: the novels Set This House in Order (2003) and Fight Club (1996), and the television shows Dollhouse (2009-2010) and United States of Tara (2009-2011). By engaging in turn with trauma theory, illness narratives and genre theory, and queer theory, this thesis argues that the texts metaphorically employ dissociative identity disorder as a means of resisting normativity, whether this is the systems of social normativity characters find themselves facing within the texts, or generic or narrative norms. In so doing, the texts position DID as a utopian condition: one that enables its sufferers to resist systems of normativity they encounter and champion non-normative identities. There is a tension evident here between metaphorical uses of disease within fiction and the real -world experiences of those who suffer from these disorders. By examining all the ways in which the texts resist norms and their utopian impulses, this thesis examines the extent to which these texts suggest DID can or should be universalised as a disorder of non-normativity.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Contributors: Peacock, James (Thesis advisor)
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2017 11:56
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2020 15:45

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