Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Clare Mullaney

Committee Member

Dr. Aga Skrodzka

Committee Member

Dr. Su Cho


This project weaves together critical and creative writing to highlight personal narratives from women with mental illnesses and invisible disabilities. Through a historical recognition of the "madwoman" who is framed as hysterical to be a scapegoat for patriarchal control, I examine societal attempts to immobilize women’s rights to free will and agency from the nineteenth century until today. My analysis of "madwomen" in domestic space takes up fiction writing such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper and Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre where women are forced into confinement against their will. In a flipped-script narrative, I reexamine how domestic space for women, namely women with invisible disabilities like mental illness in a post-lockdown world, offers possibilities for healing in a space where they are no longer expected to perform as a social subject – a responsibility, and oftentimes a facade, that hurts rather than helps, despite the usual push for socializing. For these women, including myself who are sometimes-but-not-always disabled by our conditions, spaces associated with the domestic have become places of comfort. In these places removed from the public sphere, the demands for performance and pressures of the outside world fall away. I have deemed this pursuit of retreat into the private space — a practice of social removal to rejuvenate and protect the ill woman "retreating as treatment" — a removal that can have mental, social, and emotional benefits for mentally ill women. While this project analyzes how such retreating challenges traditional opinions of acceptable treatment practices for mentally ill patients, as well as the majority of disability rights movements that push for community and the benefits of social interaction, I argue here that the best treatment option is a treatment on the patient's own terms.

Available for download on Saturday, May 31, 2025