Women's Writing and Women's Incarceration: Historical and Theoretical Approaches
This chapter sets the texts to be examined in subsequent chapters in their historical context, and argues that they form a tradition in the history of women's writing in France. A first section, entitled ‘Psychiatric medicine and the incarceration of women’, examines the implications for women of the 1838 ‘loi des aliénés’ and some of the specific ways in which nineteenth‐century psychiatry was complicit in the oppression of women in French society. The second section considers the phenomenon of ‘les écrits des aliéné(e)s’, and compares and contrasts writings produced by men and women under asylum conditions. The third section considers the precedents set by literary study, which has given a voice to those who have been labelled insane by bringing obscure authors to light. The latter will be examined with particular reference to the theme of writing the experience of madness and the literary tradition of the nineteenth‐century ‘fou littéraire’.
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