Writing Depression: Li Lanni’s Nobody in the Wilderness (77921)

Session Information: Comparative Literature Studies
Session Chair: Alexandre Avdulov

Monday, 27 May 2024 09:40
Session: Session 1
Room: Room D (Live-Stream)
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation

All presentation times are UTC + 9 (Asia/Tokyo)

Nobody in the Wilderness: A Mental Health Record of a Patient with Depression (2008) is the first of a number of memoirs that contemporary Chinese writer Li Lanni (1956- ) has composed to document her fight against the depression that hit her in 2003, after being cured of thyroid cancer. The memoir brings together Li’s diary entries from different moments of her life, excerpts from her (semi-)autobiographical literary production since the 1980s, memories of life during the Cultural Revolution, medical reports, extracts from scientific studies of mental illness, Bible citations, accounts of the SARS epidemic, and much more. This stratified narrative, where different genres, discourses, and temporalities intersect, encourages a new reflection on depression, its embodiment, and its meanings in a cross-cultural perspective. Drawing on literary and anthropological understandings of embodiment and illness and gender approaches, this paper examines Li Lanni’s articulation of depression to shed light on the potential of writing as a therapeutic tool and a form of intervention in discourses of depression inside and outside China. Li’s memoir enables new perspectives on the relation between mental illness, physical illness, and epidemic crisis, as well as between personal, national, and international history. It stages an innovative dialogue that lends itself to comparative analysis with representations of illness by other contemporary writers of illness/disability inside and outside China.

Daniela Licandro, University of Milan, Italy

About the Presenter(s)
Dr. Daniela Licandro is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Milan in the fields of modern Chinese literature and culture and Chinese language pedagogy

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00