Author(s): Caroline A. Brown, Johanna X. K. Garvey
This collection chronicles the strategic uses of madness in works by black women fiction writers from Africa, the Caribbean, Canada, Europe, and the United States. Moving from an over-reliance on the “madwoman” as a romanticized figure constructed in opposition to the status quo, contributors to this volume examine how black women authors use madness, trauma, mental illness, and psychopathology as a refraction of cultural contradictions, psychosocial fissures, and political tensions of the larger social systems in which their diverse literary works are set through a cultural studies approach.
The volume is constructed in three sections: Revisiting the Archive, Reinscribing Its Texts: Slavery and Madness as Historical Contestation, The Contradictions of Witnessing in Conflict Zones: Trauma and Testimony, and Novel Form, Mythic Space: Syncretic Rituals as Healing Balm. The novels under review re-envision the initial trauma of slavery and imperialism, both acknowledging the impact of these events on diasporic populations and expanding the discourse beyond that framework. Through madness and healing as sites of psychic return, these novels become contemporary parables of cultural resistance.