In his 1907 reading of Wilhelm Jenson’s novel Gradiva, Sigmund Freud declared creative writers to be ‘valuable allies’ to the discipline of psychiatry, whose ‘knowledge of the mind’ was ‘far in advance of us everyday people, for they draw upon sources which we have not yet opened up for science’.[1] Freud’s insistence that literature discloses and gives artistic expression to the workings of the subconscious emphasised a close alliance between literature and psychoanalysis in their shared interest in the human mind. Given that the fields of literature and psychiatry are both deeply invested in the nature of subjectivity, agency, and mental states, as well as the shaping force of unconscious operations on the construction of identity, it is perhaps not surprising that each provides a different form of evidence of psychological operations. This one day, hybrid conference at the University of Queensland will interrogate literature’s capacities not only to reflect and imaginatively to illustrate states of mind but also anticipate and actively inform our understandings of consciousness. Our central focus will be the question of how to know and represent the inner workings of one’s own and others’ minds.
Topics might include but are not limited to:

  • Realist, Gothic, Fantastic, Sci-Fi or Visionary explorations of individual psychology
  • Representations of states of consciousness including dreams, visions, hallucinations, and nightmares
  • Subjectivities in modes of narrative discourse 
  • Constructions of individual or collective identities in narrative
  • Representations of animal or non-human minds and identities
  • Explorations of altered or distorted mental states
  • Representations of mental illness
Proposals from researchers across a range of disciplines and stages of career are welcome. Speakers and participants are welcome to join in person or via zoom.  Please send proposals of no more than 300 words accompanied by a short bio to Dr Melissa Dickson at [email protected] by Monday, 15th May 2023.

[1] Sigmund Freud, ‘Delusions and Dreams in Jensen’s Gradiva’, The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, trans. and ed. James Strachey, 24 vols (London: Hogarth, 1959), 9, pp. 7-93, (p. 8).

The Writers Studio, Level 6, Michie Building
University of Queensland

Zoom Link: 
Date & Time
June 26, 2023, 9:00 AM - 17:30 PM
9.15 - 9.30        Welcome

9.30 -11.00        PANEL ONE: Nineteenth-Century Consciousnesses

Chair: Melissa Dickson

William Haviland (USyd), ‘Feeling Freaky: Antique Affect in Frankenstein

Clare Burnett (Griffith), ‘Marcus Clarke’s ‘Cannabis Indica’ and altered states of consciousness in Nineteenth- Century Australian mass media’

Tamlyn Avery (UQ), ‘Listening to the Racial Unconscious: Music and Memory in Pauline Hopkins’s Of One                                                           Blood (1903)’

11.00 - 11.30         MORNING TEA

11.30 - 1.00          PANEL TWO: Psychologies and Philosophies of Consciousness

Chair: TBA

Sara Ekenstierna (UQ), ‘Otto Rank and the Consciousness of Living’

Talia Fell (UQ), ‘Mourning and Melancholia in Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend

Bianca Millroy (UQ), ‘Cognitive conversations on the cutting edge of neuroscience

1.00 - 2.00              LUNCH

2.00 - 3.30             PANEL THREE: Creating Consciousness
Chair: Gareth Dickson

Pierce Wilcox (UQ), ‘Interpreting the script, interpreting the other: the process of thinking in contemporary theatre-fiction’

Rachel Watts (UWA), ‘Writing the unthinkable: Sickness and enmeshment in ecological fiction’

Angela Italiano (UWA), ‘Blind Spots: Depicting the Fragmented Experience of Post-trauma in Realist Fiction’

3.30 - 4.00             AFTERNOON TEA

4.00 - 5.30             PANEL FOUR: Narrative Case Studies

Chair: Tamlyn Avery

Paul Mathew (Birla Institute of Science and Technology), ‘Waning Expression of Affect in Malayalam Literary Fiction: A Study of MT Vasudevan Nair’

Annateresa Mirabella, ‘The last moments of life in literary works: Les choses de la vie and other cases’

Artemis Papailia (Democritus University of Thrace), ‘The Threat of Maternal and Paternal Devouring in the Greek Fairytale "Poulia and Avgerinos": Exploring the Psychodynamics of Parent-Child Relationships’

(In order of speaker)
Feeling Freaky: Antique Affect in Frankenstein
William Haviland

Gothic fear in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus, is not fear of the past—of heavy-handed divine retribution, or the tyrannical whims of a Mediterranean patriarch—but fear of a destructive force dormant within the pinnacle of enlightened humanity. This reversal of the generically established temporal perspective is part of a broader reconfiguration of Gothic affect, where the sublime—previously an ineffable, intangible force—is made material in the form of the Creature. Frankenstein, in this way, remoulds the "reality effects" of the Gothic novel, which originally served to establish an ambiguous moral distance between reader and text, to instead make the subjective experience of the Creature both formally and thematically unavoidable.

One of the primary narrative forces—and sources of terror—driving the events of the novel is the Creature's frustrated, futile search for a relationship of reciprocal sympathy. Victor's all-consuming desire for knowledge becomes, in his progeny, an all-consuming desire for companionship. In this way, the frustrated, thwarted desire for a mate of the Creature ultimately provides the impetus for Victor's metaphysical and corporeal crises. It is here, at the intersection between the Creature's status as both an occult abomination, and a genuinely affective being, that we find the core of Mary Shelley's transcendence over clear binaries and generic expectations.

The relationship between the Creature's desires—for a mate, a companion, and an interlocutor—and their formal expression in the text, crystallised a mode of feeling that had been slowly building in Gothic novels for much of the eighteenth-century. The narrative expression of the Creature's rage, longing, and fear ultimately liberates the established affective dynamics of Gothic fiction from a reliance on intimation and vicarious fantasy, and replaces it with a realistic, socially-determined model.
William Haviland
is a doctoral student in English literature at the University of Sydney. His thesis research seeks to understand the Gothic novels of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as part of a mode of affective, social exchange. Of particular interest to his research are the intersections between notions of subjectivity, performance, and affect theory, and the ways that Gothic novels both mediate and are informed by differing modes of feeling. Say hello at [email protected].

Marcus Clarke’s ‘Cannabis Indica’ and altered states of consciousness in Nineteenth-Century Australian mass media
Clare Burnett

Psychiatrist Jacques-Joseph Moreau’s 1845 work Du Hachisch et de l'aliénation mentale was one of the first scientific studies to link the consumption of cannabis with mental state. It was also one of a plethora of fictional and scientific accounts of altered states of consciousness through which writers, psychologists and reporters brought an understanding of the experience of drug taking to global popular imaginations in the nineteenth century. In Australian periodicals, fictional representations mingled with personal anecdotes to describe the experience of drug taking and its effects on the mind. Marcus Clarke, one of Australia’s foremost authors, wrote an experimental Gothic tale in 1868 for the Colonial Monthly Magazine titled ‘Cannabis Indica’, purportedly under the influence of hashish. This little-known short story was discussed in contemporaneous reviews as merely a curio, but it was one of the first portrayals of altered consciousness by an Australian author. It is emblematic of the potential of popular literature to disseminate knowledge to mass audiences about medical and cultural understandings of consciousness. These representations helped to construct Australian understandings - informed by accounts of Oriental medicine, the occult, and the nascent psychiatric discipline in Europe and the United States - of the impacts of drug taking on mental states. Previous research has tended to look at the depictions of altered states of consciousness by European and American writers within the sociocultural context of those nations rather than in the colonial environment, and this presentation seeks to address this gap. It will contextualise the representations of altered mental states in Australian popular media to determine how fictionalised accounts and personal anecdotes of drug taking served and related to a colonial audience, and what particular colonial anxieties and issues were explored in these depictions.

Clare Burnett is currently undertaking a PhD programme at Griffith University in Queensland, where her interdisciplinary research project investigates editorial decision-making, international publication networks and the development of literary cultures in nineteenth-century Australia with a focus on the Gothic. Prior to embarking on an academic career, Clare forged a 10-year career in independent news media, working at online publications with a strong focus on quality, research-based journalism. She is currently working as a research officer, supporting the development of the To Be Continued fiction database, a joint venture between researchers at James Cook University, Australian National University, and the National Library of Australia.

“Listening to the Racial Unconscious: Music and Memory in Pauline Hopkins’s Of One Blood (1903)”
Tamlyn Avery

This paper explores the function of music and memory in Pauline Hopkins’s melodrama Of One Blood: Or, the Hidden Self (serialized in 1902–3). A psychological novel and early work of Afrofuturism, Of One Blood tells the story of Ruell Briggs: a white-passing Harvard medical student with mesmeric powers, who astounds his colleagues by reanimating the Fisk Jubilee Singer Dianthe Lusk, seemingly deceased, using ‘magnetism,’ drawing upon William James’s findings on hypnosis in “The Hidden Self.” Like the modernists who turned to art music’s nonsignifying properties to simulate patterns of mental processing that reflected new scientific understandings of the Unconscious, I suggest that Hopkins¾a professional soprano herself¾devised a musical shorthand for modelling the cryptic topography of Dianthe’s amnesic psyche, the object of Brigg’s parapsychological experiments: contrasting various myths, fantasies, and anxieties associated with the composers Wagner, Beethoven, and Mozart with those surrounding the spirituals including “God Down Moses.” Dianthe’s disordered sense of self, both unmoored and anchored by these contrasting musical memories, is reflective of what W. E. B. Du Bois (James’s Harvard student and Hopkins’s friend, upon whom Briggs is modelled) theorized as double consciousness: the Black subject’s self-estrangement in ever “measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity” (Souls of Black Folk, 1903).

Dr Tamlyn Avery is Lecturer of American Studies at the University of Queensland, Australia, specialising in 19th and 20th literature. She is author of The Regional Development of the American Bildungsroman (Edinburgh UP 2023) and co-editor of the Australasian Modernist Studies Association’s journal, Affirmations: of the Modern. Her research has appeared or is forthcoming in PMLA (Cambridge UP), American Literature (Duke UP), Modernism/Modernity (Johns Hopkins UP), The Oxford Handbook of African American Women’s Writing (Oxford UP), The Mississippi Quarterly (Johns Hopkins UP), and elsewhere. She is currently editing a collection on women’s poetics in 1922, while preparing two monographs that respectively examine classical music in the African American literary soundscape and the politics of stenographic labor in African American white-collar fiction.

Otto Rank and the Consciousness of Living
Sara Ekenstierna

The human being searches for an answer to a question which positivistic science with all its great achievements cannot produce: What does it mean to be conscious during this brief moment on Earth that we know as life? In Will Therapy, Otto Rank states that anxiety, which he calls the reality problem, is nothing more than the problem of the present, or the consciousness of living. It is simply an unwillingness to surrender to the present. Consciousness of living, the awareness that we are alive, is perhaps, as Rank scholar Robert Kramer points out, the single most significant fact of human existence. To Rank this awareness is tied in with being fully present and conscious in cosmos, and a question he asks is “How does a person discover from within, the creative will to say yes to this force, this internal must?”

Rank’s understanding of consciousness and the unconscious differs from Freud’s. Mind is not a box which contents can be uncovered, interpreted, and intellectualized. To Rank, a part of the self has its origin in cosmos, through what he called the existential unconscious. This self-cosmic relation forms a wholeness, comprising both mental life and material life, and centers in the existential and the subjective. It extends into the ineffable, wherefore the question arises: Is it possible to make an objective, scientific statement about it and quantify it?

As an integral part of a whole, relation is the nexus of which a person’s existence depends and within which self-actualization occurs. As such, self-becoming begins in Rank not with the assumption of a preexisting objective world preceding consciousness, or with biological preconditioned drives waiting to unfold, as in Freudian thinking, but, as to William James, with the basic fact of experience. Such focus extends beyond the purview of positivistic psychology, because it postulates empirically untestable factors like will and consciousness as real constituents of self-creativity and in the shaping of reality.

Sara Ekenstierna is founder of Ekenstierna Psykologkonsult and Oakstar Coaching & Consulting. She was educated at Lund University in Sweden and at University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, and is currently a PhD research candidate at the University of Queensland, Austraila. Sara is a licensed psychologist (Sweden) and has fifteen years’ worth of experience in the field, spanning private practice, psychiatry and organizational psychology. Her research topics include health and wellbeing, authentic living, self-actualization, and she is specifically interested in holistic thought, metaphysics, existential-integrative perspectives including humanistic psychodynamic theory, and quantum existentialism. Sara focuses predominantly on STDP (short term psychodynamic therapy), and is also familiar with ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy); and Mindfulness-based Psychotherapy. Sara is a published writer. She was a columnist for the popular Swedish professional magazine Psykologtidningen.

Mourning and Melancholia in Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend
Talia Fell

In My Brilliant Friend (2012), the first novel in The Neapolitan Quartet, Italian author Elena Ferrante imaginatively illustrates the intense state of consciousness experienced by protagonist and narrator Lenu as a child when she loses her doll Tina. Lenu describes becoming overcome by a sort of tactile dysfunction that involves the impression that those around her are speeding up, that surfaces are becoming soft or swelling up when she touches them, her own body feeling swollen, to the extent that she believes she has “cheeks like balloons, hands stuffed with sawdust, earlobes like ripe berries, feet in the shape of loaves of bread” (2012, 57).

Using my research on the psychoanalytic significance of the symbol of the dolls in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet, I argue that Ferrante not only represents the grief that Lenu experiences in response to losing her doll, but also a state of melancholia. The difference between mourning and melancholia, as theorised by Sigmund Freud, is that we consciously know what we are mourning, while melancholia is an object loss that is withdrawn from consciousness (Freud 1953, 245).

The doll, I argue, is a sort of transitional object like that described by D.W. Winnicott or, alternatively, a quasi-subject as described by Luce Irigaray. Through doll play, the girl re-creates a symbolic space where the originary mother-daughter bond is re-enacted. I argue that Lenu both mourns the lost doll and experiences a state of melancholia triggered by the loss of her doll. I support this argument using Luce Irigaray’s theory that girls are unable to symbolise the loss of their originary connection with their mothers, so experience melancholia in response to this loss. I will argue that Ferrante’s description of Lenu’s embodied experience of a distorted mental state imaginatively illustrates both mourning and the melancholia described by both Freud and Irigaray.

Talia Fell is a PhD candidate at The University of Queensland in the field of philosophy. Her thesis is titled Becoming Intellectual Women: Girlhood Friendship and the Role of Intellectual Exchange. In this project, she uses the philosophical work of Simone de Beauvoir, Luce Irigaray and others, as well as the literary work of Elena Ferrante in The Neapolitan Quartet, to philosophically explore how girls become intellectuals, the ambiguities and complexity of friendships between girls, and the role of intellectual exchange between them.

Cognitive conversations on the cutting edge of neuroscience
Bianca Millroy

Part neuroscientific exposé, part creative intervention, this paper proposes a novel framework for approaching and overcoming communication barriers between medical professionals and patients with functional neurological disorders. FND is used to describe a cluster of “medically unexplained” neurological, cognitive and motor affective symptoms with no known organic cause—but are nonetheless legitimate and debilitating. Previous iterations include the Freudian-coined “conversion disorder” and the gendered historical term, “hysteria”. Since the late 20th century, Psychiatry and Neurology—traditionally involved in the diagnosis and treatment of FND—have migrated to distinct areas of medical inquiry, thus separating the “brain” from the “mind”. This has had a detrimental effect on the diagnostic and long-term care of those with FND, which remains the second most common reason (behind migraine) for presentation to emergency departments with subsequent referral to Neurology or Psychiatry.

In this paper, I examine contemporary creative responses to FND such as Katerina Bryant’s 2020 memoir, Hysteria, as a vehicle for exploring potential applications for arts-based interventions, such as narrative storytelling, to develop shared understanding and empathy between patient and practitioner, thereby addressing the stigma associated with somatoform illness. Common experiences of patients include misdiagnosis and accusations of malingering. Dismissive attitudes, systemic inequity, and lack of education (of FND) has led to patients going undiagnosed, untreated and left to “slip between the gaps”. This wicked problem is deeply rooted in the social and cultural psyche, however it can be bridged. And it needs to be. This is where my research comes in. Drawing on autoethnographic and medical humanities perspectives, my practice-led research aims to determine whether creative practice can improve diagnostic outcomes for FND; and how engaging in art or narrative therapy could be beneficial in articulating lived experience to raise awareness and drive progress for FND in Australia.

Bianca Millroy is a PhD candidate in the School of Communication and Arts, UQ. Her research delves into and across the fields of cultural studies and medical humanities with a particular focus on arts-based interventions and experiential narratives of individuals with functional neurological disorder. Bianca is a freelance writer and editor whose work appears in Science Write Now, Visible Ink, and Writing Queensland. Her unpublished historical fiction manuscript, The Looming, was shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards in 2020.

Interpreting the script, interpreting the other: the process of thinking in contemporary theatre-fiction
Pierce Wilcox

The action of the mind is often an action of interpretation: we ask what he meant by that, what is she thinking, what it’s all about. Theatre-fiction, a prose genre that makes the rehearsal or performance of theatre central to the plot (Wolfe 2), is particularly concerned with its characters’ subjectivities and how they bring their psychologies to bear on the texts that lie before them, with the human other becoming a kind of interpretable text. These are novels about psychologically rounded individuals who attempt to understand, and stage, often non-realistic theatrical scripts, a task which reveals the details of their mental operations: their biases, pattern-matching inclinations, and unconscious desires.
This paper argues that by depicting characters grappling with the interpretation of a text within the novel, the intermedial genre of theatre-fiction both illuminates a mental process and unfolds a parallel process within the mind of the reader, depicting an operation of consciousness by inviting its practice. In an analysis of Susan Choi’s 2019 novel Trust Exercise, I argue that the intellectual process of interpreting a playscript comes to stand in for the psychological process of interpreting the actions and intentions of the other, complicated throughout by lack of self-knowledge and the distorting effects of power. In a novel riven with formal and narrative uncertainty, the reader witnesses this mode of consciousness in action, and must replicate it to bring the novel’s story to a conclusion - and in doing so they are made aware of their own subjectivity. Trust Exercise exemplifies how theatre fiction novels ‘enjoin an effortful imaginative practice on the reader’ and ‘invite [the] reader to do labour’ (Kurnich 112; 128): as its characters argue about and test interpretations of the script, the reader must do the same to them, proffering and discarding explanations of their behaviour.

Choi, Susan. Trust Exercise. Serpent’s Tail, 2019.
Kurnick, David. Empty Houses: Theatrical Failure and the Novel. Princeton University Press, 2011
Wolfe, Graham. Theatre-Fiction in Britain from Henry James to Doris Lessing: Writing in the Wings. Routledge, 2021.

Pierce Wilcox is an HDR candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Queensland. He has previously undertaken postgraduate study in theatrical directing at the National Institute of Dramatic Art and worked as a dramaturg, director, playwright, and opera librettist. His operas have been performed at the Melbourne Festival, nominated for the Helpmann Award for Best Opera, and won the Art Music Award. His poetry has been published in Cordite, and he was shortlisted for the 2022 UQP Writing Mentorship.

Writing the unthinkable: Sickness and enmeshment in ecological fiction
Rachel Watts

How do we write the unthinkable? Ecological crisis represents a global and temporal trauma both in terms of physical space and psychological impact. This experience is so vast, so ‘uncanny’ that Amitav Ghosh posits an unthinkability at its core (32-33). Timothy Morton, conversely, suggests that by sinking deeper into the horror of this unthinkability, we enter a melancholy space that opens pathways to a non-human world (‘Tuning’, 29). It is there, they claim, that we will find the relationships and the understanding that allows humans to fully apprehend the damaged world we are reconnecting with.

Growing emphasis on thinking-with or knowing-with non-human lives marks a turn toward ecological thinking, defined by Morton in its simplest sense as the awareness that everything is connected (The Ecological Thought, 1). Literary expressions of this awareness, via Richard Powers, Laura Jean McKay and Kim Stanley Robinson, for example, often use trauma or sickness (or both) as catalysts for ecological world views that propel both plot and reader to new ways of thinking. By placing a vulnerable human body within an injured ecological one, these devices are used as narrative frames and allegiances that highlight both human and non-human frailty and allow writers think-with the global and the individual simultaneously.

This paper will explore sickness as frame for writing the unthinkable, and investigate its potential and limitations in mediating an individual body and mind within a global context of ecological crisis. By assessing representation of loss, sickness and recovery in a creative practice, it asks how human vulnerability might help create narratives of interdependence, collaboration and human humility. Ultimately, how might this lead to radical shifts in consciousness and different forms of cognition for fictional characters and, perhaps, readers?

Rachel Watts is a PhD student in creative writing at The University of Western Australia. Her research focuses on complex narratives in connection to the environment and climate change. Her article 'Every Woman Adores a Fascist: feminist literary intervention in elegiac writing', published in TEXT Journal in 2019, explored the elegiac writing of Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath. Her fiction and nonfiction has been published by Westerly Magazine, Island, Kill Your Darlings and more. Her climate change novella Survival was released in 2018. Her unpublished novel In The Morning I Rise was shortlisted for the 2020 Penguin Literary Prize and longlisted for the 2018 Richell Prize.

Blind Spots: Depicting the Fragmented Experience of Post-trauma in Realist Fiction’
Angela Italiano

Conveying the psychological experience of traumatic memory in fiction has been a challenge for writers, with numerous criticisms. Indeed, the depiction of such experiences in authentic and realistic ways has been considered by many to be resistant to literary representation altogether. However, with recent exploration and experimentation with literary techniques and modes, writers of fiction have continued to find new ways of conceptualizing traumatic memory. Informed by such developments in trauma and memory theory, my own research has involved developing numerous techniques to represent the fragmented and emotional experience of traumatic memory in a realist novel. This has included incorporating specific sensory details as triggers for memory recall, metaphor to convey the feeling and emotion associated with memory, and stream of consciousness (SOC) to represent the fractured, fragmented process of traumatic remembering. These are some of the many literary techniques which can be used in such fictional works, and which represent the unique capability of fiction to capture and convey personal psychological experiences. It is crucial that we continue to investigate the capacity for fictional literary novels to reflect the inner experience of trauma and memory in nuanced and authentic ways. This paper will explore how post-traumatic memory may be realistically represented within a fictional novel by discussing theoretical research findings in both memory and trauma studies, as well as practical research. I will explore specific literary techniques that I have employed within my own creative research methodology to represent the psychological experience of post-trauma.

Angela Italiano is a current PhD candidate at the University of Western Australia. Her research is focussed on the representation of trauma and memory in realist fiction.

Waning Expression of Affect in Malayalam Literary Fiction: A Study of MT Vasudevan Nair
Paul Mathew

A range of scholarship from Bergson to Benjamin, and Adorno to Aronowitz, has hitherto explored the impact of capitalist modernity in shaping popular consciousness, particularly through twentieth-century literature, cinema and the creative industries. The increasingly rationalized and mediated experience of capitalist modernity is often highlighted in this scholarship. However, the role of affect, as a politically significant form of
expression of subjectivity, has been examined only recently in the last two decades. Here, I argue that it is important to address a crisis in the representation of affect itself, considering that it is closely linked to public memory and popular consciousness. This is made urgent in a
‘society of the spectacle’ (à la Debord), ordered as a ‘simulacra’ of human experience. I propose that literary narrative in a capitalist society undergoes a crisis of the representation of affect. In consequence, the rootedness in ‘experience’ (erfahrung/erlebnis in Benjamin) wanes, producing literary narratives that imbibe a cinematic logic of movement, prioritizing the immediate ‘present’. This paper examines how this process unfolds in Kerala, a South
Indian state. Postcolonial transitions and the development of cinema – its temporality and form, has a notable impact on literary affect. Drawing on concepts like the ‘regime of the image’ (Ranciere) and ‘cinematographic consciousness’ (Stiegler), I argue that from the 1970s onwards Malayalam literary fiction undergoes a change, towards a new regime of consciousness – shaped by capitalist modernity and articulated through the spatio-temporal
compulsions of cinema. This theory is further situated through a textual analysis of the works of iconic Malayalam writer M.T. Vasudevan Nair, comparing his early works in the 1960s to those produced in the latter decades.

Paul Mathew is currently Assistant Professor of English and Cultural Studies at Birla Institute of Science and Technology, Rajasthan, India. His research occupies two broad fields. His primary research interest is in popular culture, particularly ideologies of work, love, family and social reproduction, using an approach grounded in political economy. In addition, he also studies youth subcultures (graffiti & street art) and inter-medial linkages between
literature and cinema, particularly those aspects that have a bearing on popular consciousness. He has published in international peer-reviewed journals like Feminist Media Studies, The Journal of Popular Culture, and South Asian Review.

The last moments of life in literary works: Les choses de la vie and other cases
Annateresa Mirabella

“Is it possible for the human brain to be activated by the dying process?”. This question is related to a widely spread belief, which has become a topos in art as well as in the sermo cotidianus, often used metaphorically: the sentence "I saw my life flash before my eyes" means, for example, a great fright. Now scientific investigations confirm the impressions that until now were only supported by the testimonies of people who had first-hand experiences very close to death. In literature there is a great focus the last moments of characters' lives, lyrical episodes that very often see them questioning their own biography. Without claiming to explain this topic in the light of recent discoveries - undoubtedly more complex than such a generalisation - it is nevertheless interesting to consider this aspect, the main focus of the short novel Les choses de la vie (1967) by the French writer Paul Guimard (1921-2004) - which made him famous in France, entirely based on the interior monologue of the protagonist Pierre who, while travelling on the road between Paris and Rennes, is the victim of a serious car accident. As help arrives, his mind barely aware of what is happening around him chases thoughts and memories one after the other. A book that describes with intensity, irony and precision the drama of mortality, and the subjective perception of individual human experiences. Guimard's work photographs a precise moment - the one before death - and describes the work of the intimate conscience - and therefore of the mind, more active than ever at that instant - which takes note of what is about to happen, explores a mental state altered by the inability to conceive the imminent future, and which inevitably drive people to tell themselves a different reality.

Annateresa Mirabella graduated in Modern Literature from University of Salerno (with a thesis in Latin Language and Literature, entitled “Il Dialogus de oratoribus e la questione dell’attribuzione a Tacito”), then graduated in Semiotics from University of Bologna (with a thesis in Semiotics of Media, entitled “L’oggetto-libro nella produzione mediatica contemporanea e in alcune pratiche di consumo”), then in Modern Philology (with a thesis in History of Literary Criticism, entitled “Spoon River Anthology, Edgar Lee Masters: storia di un mito e della sua ricezione in Italia”) from University of Salerno.

The Threat of Maternal and Paternal Devouring in the Greek Fairytale "Poulia and Avgerinos": Exploring the Psychodynamics of Parent-Child Relationships
Artemis Papailia

The Greek fairytale "Poulia and Avgerinos" is a rich source for exploring the psychodynamics of parent-child relationships, particularly the threat of maternal and paternal devouring. In the tale, the parents of the protagonist Avgerinos are driven by famine to consider devouring their own children, a threat that hangs over the story and creates a sense of danger and urgency throughout.
Through an analysis of the tale's use of symbolism and archetypes, we will explore the ways in which "Poulia and Avgerinos" anticipates and informs our understanding of the psychological dynamics at play in parent-child relationships. Specifically, we will focus on the themes of maternal and paternal devouring, examining their symbolic significance and their potential implications for our understanding of the relationship between parents and children.
We will also consider the broader implications of this analysis for our understanding of the relationship between literature and psychology, particularly in the context of the ongoing dialogue between psychoanalysis and literary studies. By exploring the ways in which "Poulia and Avgerinos" illuminates the psychodynamics of parent-child relationships, we hope to deepen our understanding of the complexities of the human psyche and the potential of literature to offer unique insights into the inner workings of the mind.

Artemis Papailia holds a PhD (2022) in Children’s Literature from the Democritus University of Thrace and she is a Post-doc Researcher at the same field. Currently she works as an Adjunct Professor of Children’s Literature at Democritus University of Thrace. Her scientific reflections focus mainly on theoretical approaches to Children's Literature, on issues of meaning-making strategies and reader-response theories.

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