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MADNESS AND POWER IN RUSSIAN CULTURE

Saturday 19 October: 5:00pm - 6:00pm

Little Hall, Sidgwick Site, CB3 9DA

In the Soviet Union in the late 1960s, word began to spread that citizens who questioned the status quo were being diagnosed with mental illnesses and confined to psychiatric hospitals. Dissidents responded by circulating unofficial accounts of their evaluations together with manuals on how to talk to state psychiatrists, and poetry and fiction about madness more generally. Many of these texts made the radical claim that it was in fact the state that had lost its mind. Rebecca Reich situates the dissident response to psychiatric repression within Russia’s longstanding literary tradition of exploring the link between insanity and creativity. Psychiatrists and dissidents constructed opposing narratives of mental illness in what became a crucial struggle for authority and power.

Dr Rebecca Reich is Senior Lecturer in Russian Literature and Culture at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Jesus College. She has published on topics including twentieth-century Russian literature and cultural history, the history of science and medicine, and print culture. She is the author of State of Madness: Psychiatry, Literature, and Dissent After Stalin (Northern Illinois University Press, 2018) and the Consultant Editor for Russia and East-Central Europe at the Times Literary Supplement.

Booking Information

Telephone number:
01223 766766

Booking required

Additional Information

Age: 16+, Talk, Arrive on time, none

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