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Madness as a New Kind of Music: Janet Frame's Literary Soundscapes and Ethics of Listening Otherwise

Working with Janet Frame’s novel Faces in the Water (1961), this chapter explores the ethics of listening otherwise and generates a way into madness as “a new kind of music” (Frame 77). As a Mad sound artist with familial experiences of ECT, I have engaged with Janet Frame’s work to inform my artistic methodology and praxis. Rather than objectifying the madwoman trope, Faces in the Water can be read as describing the radical and liberatory epistemology of madness through the figurative language of music and sound. I explore how Frame’s work interrupts the smooth harmony of the contemporary ECT popular discursive practices deployed by psychiatry to convince us that erasure can be a cure for trauma. Weaving the intersections of memory, trauma, and sound, I consider how Janet Frame uses sound (and songs) to create madness as a new kind of music that empowers Mad women politically and discursively.

Publication Date: 2023 Publication Name: Madwomen in Social Justice Movements, Literatures and Art


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