Eastern Asylum for the Insane, Pontiac

The Making Sense Of: Madness Project: 8th Global Meeting
Tuesday 15th September – Thursday 17th September 2015
Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom

Call for Presentations

Madness: What is it? Why does it exist? Where and when does it happen? How does it happen, and to whom? Like the relation between otherness and identity, madness might have always been used to define its opposite, or defined by what it is not. Madness and its absence may even be intrinsically linked to everything we do and do not, to all we aspire and escape from; it could be part of our origins and fate. But how can it be identified, described, studied and/or treated? We propose to take an interdisciplinary approach, by which we mean one that allows us to develop dialogues about the subject from different points of view, from and between different disciplines and experiences. This will partly allow us to answer the questions above, in direct relation to the specific contexts in which madness is observed, studied and/or experienced and, it is desirable, it might also allow us all to understand that, just by being humans, none of us is actually immune to it.

This international, inter-disciplinary conference seeks to explore issues of madness across historical periods and within cultural, political and social contexts. We are interested as well in exploring the place of madness in persons and interpersonal relationships and across a range of critical perspectives. Seeking to encourage innovative inter, multi and post disciplinary dialogues, we warmly welcome papers from all disciplines, professions and vocations which struggle to understand the place of madness in the constitution of persons, relationships and the complex interlacing of self and other. In the seven previous conferences we had the participation of people who have experienced forms of madness in their personal lives, and their presentations have always been not only welcome, but also moving and illuminating for all. Such contributions based on the actual experience of madness from within have been an essential part of our conferences and this year we encourage again the submission of abstracts based on first-hand experience. Our conferences have also been increasingly enriched by the participation of artists and performers, introducing more fluid and malleable spheres and scenes within our interactions. This year we also wish to encourage and expand this by inviting delegates to submit proposals for exhibitions, performances and interventions.

In particular papers, workshops, presentations, performances and exhibitions are invited on any of the following themes:

  1. The Value of Madness or Why is it that We Need Madness?:
  • Critical explorations: beyond madness/sanity/insanity
  • Continuity and difference: always with us yet never quite the same
  • Repetition and novelty: the incessant emergence and re-emergence of madness
  • Naming, defining and understanding the elusive
  • The unreachable and untouchable knowledge of madness
  • Learning from madness how to cope with reality
  • Madness as genius, outstanding, out of the ordinary,
  • Mad passion and love as a remaking of life and self
  • Love, intimacy, care and the small spaces of madness
  1. The Boundaries of Madness or Resisting Normality:
  • Madness, sanity and the insane
  • Being out of your mind, crazy, deranged … yet, perfectly sane
  • Deviating from the normal; defining the self against the normal
  • When the insane becomes normal; when evil reins social life
  • I would rather vomit, thank you; revulsion, badness and refusing to comply
  • What is real? Who defines reality?
  • The insanity of not loving madness
  • Critical and ethical implosions of normality and normalness; sane in insane places and insane in sane places
  1. The Invention of Madness I: Historical, Sociological and Institutional Perspectives:
  • The science of madness
  • Medicine, psychiatry, psychology, law and the constructions of madness; madness as illness
  • Contributions of the social sciences to the making and the critique of the making of madness
  • The social allure and fear of madness; the institutions of confining mad people
  • Servicing normality by castigating the insane and marginalizing lunatics
  • Cultural and social constructions of madness; images of the mad, crazy, insane, lunatic, abnormal
  • Gender and madness; the feminine and the masculine
  1. The Invention of Madness II: The Contribution of the Arts:
  • The art of madness
  • Representations, explanations and the critique of madness from the humanities and the arts
  • Music, painting, dance, theatre: is it crazy to think of madness without performance?
  • Madness and humour, how are they related? can manic laughter be considered a form of humour? which is funnier (if funny at all) laughing until crying or the opposite? why or how do some comedians use their performances as a way of exploring their own madness, or how do they use their own madness as material?
  • Literature and madness
  • The language and communication of madness: who can translate?
  • Creation as an unfolding of madness; Madness as an unfolding of creativity
  1. The Allures and Perils of Madness:
  • Love as madness; uncontrollable passion; unrestrainable love
  • Recognising madness in oneself; relativising madness in others
  • Metaphors of feeling free, unrestrained, capable, lifted from reality
  • Madness as clear-sightedness, as opening up possibilities, as re-visioning of the world
  • The future, the prophetic, the unknown; the epic, the heroic and the tragic
  • Profound attraction and desire; fear of the abyss and the radical unknown
  • Control, self-control and the pull of the abyss

What to Send:

300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 1st May 2015. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 10th July 2015. Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:

  1. a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.

E-mails should be entitled: MADNESS8 Abstract Submission.

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs: Gonzalo Araoz, Katarzyna Szmigiero, Rob Fisher


The conference is part of the ‘Making Sense Of:’ series of research projects. The aim of the conference is to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting. All proposals accepted for and presented at the conference must be in English and will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook.  Selected proposals may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume(s). All publications from the conference will require editors, to be chosen from interested delegates from the conference.
Inter-Disciplinary.Net believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract for presentation.

Please note: 
Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.


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