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MSc in Creative Arts and Mental Health Open Event: Dr Anna Harpin – Monday 13 February 2017

13th February 2017 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm


Please join the MSc in Creative Arts and Mental Health and the Drama Department at Queen Mary University of London for:

“Gazing with alterity in Titicut Follies, Blue/Orange, and Ship of Fools

Dr Anna Harpin (University of Warwick, Theatre and Performance Studies)


Film and Drama Studio, ArtsTwo Building

Queen Mary University of University of London (Mile End Campus)

Everyone welcome

Refreshments will be served

Free of charge

RSVP on Facebook here

This talk is the first in a series of public events exploring the connections of mental health with performance and art practice.

For details on future events, please email: m.s.boyle@qmul.ac.uk

For more information on the MSc in Creative Arts and Mental Health, please visit:




How have artists captured and communicated psychiatric spaces and patient experiences? And what types of evidence can we gather from their work to help forge more creative and humane alternatives current care practices? This paper will expose recurrent themes of spectacular cruelty and harm across three art works – Frederick Wiseman’s Titicut Follies (1967), Joe Penhall’s Blue/Orange (2000), and the vacuum cleaner’s Ship of Fools(2010). All three artists question how one looks at madness and mad folk. They ask what it means to care, what constitutes a community, and how far the political capacity to be properly seen and heard is conditioned through interlocking, authoritative discourses. This paper will sketch the ways in which the works politically engage with the apparent legibility of madness and will argue that, through aesthetic means, the three attempt to redistribute the locus of knowledge about madness, widen the aperture of perceptual realities, and decentre the question of where to ‘put’ madness. In their aesthetic interrogations of spectacle, care and harm, they provoke new and vital considerations as to what a hospitable community of support might actually feel like.



Anna Harpin is Associate Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of Warwick. Her primary research area is the cultural history of madness and trauma. She has recently published a book, with Juliet Foster, entitled Performance, Madness, Psychiatry: Isolated Acts, a chapter on Broadmoor Hospital in the Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities, and is completing a monograph called, Disordered: Madness and Cultural Representation. Alongside her academic work Anna is a theatre maker with her company, Idiot Child. The company will be touring a new work about fear and anxiety entitled, What if the plane falls out of the sky? in May and June 2017.


13th February 2017
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Category:


School of English and Drama
020 7882 8910


Queen Mary University of London
327 Mile End Road
London, E1 4NS
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