In the aftermath of Doris Lessing’s passing last year, I return to my PhD thesis and Lessing’s representations of women's mental health. In her last novel, Alfred and Emily (2008), she summarises her position on women’s madness by squarely pointing the finger at the mother. In the 1970s, feminists and anti-psychiatrists alike distanced themselves from the idea of the ‘schizophrenogenic mother’ as the origin of women’s madness and instead looked to wider political and social structures; Lessing, however, maintained that ‘neurotic mothers [were] driving their daughters mad’ (Lessing, 2008, p.190) and that mothering is political. This seminar returned to Lessing’s 1960s ‘madness novels’ and maps Lessing's critical engagement with women's mental health, anti-psychiatry, the female body, and the sexual politics of mothering.
A diary of conferences attended with details of papers.