Ideas for Final Assignment Topics
Please read this carefully before you begin to plan and write your paper or develop your creative project. You are free to develop your own essay topic, however, please run it by your instructor first.
The topics and the questions included are to offer guidance for you to begin thinking about some of the relevant issues that you can explore in your paper, they should not limit the scope of your exploration. The questions included do not highlight all the factors that you can/should consider, but they act as a starting point for you to begin to craft your essay.
You are still required to develop a thesis statement based on the topic you choose and introduce clear arguments in correspondence with this thesis statement that engage with themes examined within the course.
Please, also have a look at the rubric provided on D2L to help you as think about planning and structuring your essays.
In this course we complicate our understanding of madness and popular culture by conceptualizing mental illness as popular culture. In this way mental illness can be seen as manifesting both in and as cultural practice (see White, 2012). Explore and analyze how cultural practices work as regulatory forces that police mental illness and discuss the significance of this in the realm of popular culture.
Using an intersectional approach to social oppression, pick a psychiatric diagnosis from the past (e.g. drapetomania, homosexuality) or the present (e.g. gender dysphoria, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia) and explore what it produces at the individual and societal level.
Art made by mad people is often understood through the concept of the aesthetic of absence. Choose one mad identified artist and talk about how their technical skills, aesthetic decisions, and/or socially engaged content challenges the notion that mad artists lack artistic training or conscious development of aesthetic and message based content in their artwork.
Many have argued that psychiatric diagnoses and labels of ‘mental illness’ work to govern and regulate people. Using a specific example, demonstrate how a particular psychiatric diagnosis has been used as a form of social control. You must go beyond what has been discussed in class.
In multiple lectures we have explored the ways that the biomedical model of mental illness reinforces the narrative of the benevolent white settler savior and erases both historical and contemporary practices of white settler colonial violence. Leanne Simpson’s video lecture from week 4 uses the concept of nationhood as a way to (re)position the role of the land as being central for Indigenous communities to survive and thrive. Explore the ways in which a decolonial, anticolonial, and/or Indigenous approach to madness disrupts and reimagines dominant approaches to health and wellbeing.
Outsider Art relies heavily on biographical information about the artists. Choose one well-known Outsider Artist (e.g. Wölfli, Richter) and discuss how the use of their biographical information impacts how they are understood as artists.
Give an example of a prominent person (e.g. an activist, researcher, academic, etc.) involved in anti-asylum organizing or the c/s/x movement. What did this person contribute? What is the relevance of their contributions?
Helping professionals have a complicated history in how they have worked with the Mad community. Pick a consumer/survivor initiative (e.g. MPA, Sound Times) and discuss how it offers an alternative to traditional mental health services.
Anti-stigma campaigns are becoming commonplace. Pick one initiative (e.g. Bell Let’s Talk, CAMH’s Defeat Denial campaign), explore how it approaches madness, and then offer, drawing from insights from the course, what an anti-discrimination campaign might take into account.
Madness narratives are often included in storytelling for the purposes of driving the plot or getting a laugh. Rarely do stories depict multifaceted mad characters. Choose an example of a story (e.g. a film, novel, TV episode/series) that incorporates madness or mad characters. How, and to what end, is madness included?