The Institute for the Psychological Study of the Arts

Bent Sørensen
Associate Professor of English
Department of American Literature and Culture, Aalborg University, Denmark

“Narratives of Disorder/Disorders of Narrative”

4–5:30 PM February 21, 2006
Keen-Flint 5 (History Seminar Room), University of Florida

Bent Sørensen is Associate Professor of English and Coordinator of the English Program in the Department of American Literature and Culture of Aalborg University in Denmark, where he teaches 20th and 21st century American literature, cultural studies, and theory. He is the author of Love, Identity and Reason in the Tales of Edgar Allan Poe and Labelling a Generation/Generationing the Text and of dozens of articles on 20th and 21st century American literature and culture, including the Beat Generation, the works of Salinger, Updike, Douglas Coupland, Bret Easton Ellis, Jonathan Lethem, and Cormac McCarthy. He is also editor of 5 Faces of Derrida and co-editor of four anthologies of Cultural Text Studies.

The topic of Professor Sørensen’s talk: Such disorders as amnesia, attention deficiencies, involuntary tics and compulsions (such as Tourette Syndrome symptoms), and other perception and communication-related disorders, such as autism/Asperger’s syndrome or certain forms of schizophrenia all pose challenges to narratives; interruptions, lacunae, disruptions, inversions, and surpluses can all become narrative manifestations of these disorders. Can non-sufferers of these disorders still decode such disturbed narratives? (If so, why and how?) Can we even learn things from them that we cannot learn from more orderly narratives?

Works discussed include:

Mark Richard, Fishboy: A Ghost’s Tale (1993)
Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club (1996)
Gwyn Hyman Rubio, Icy Sparks (1998)
Jonathan Lethem, Motherless Brooklyn (1999)
Jonathan Lethem (ed.), The Book of Amnesia (2000) (excerpts)
Alan Lightman, The Diagnosis (2000)
Myla Goldberg, Bee Season (2001)
Don De Lillo, The Body Artist (2001)
Craig Clevenger, The Contortionist’s Handbook (2002)
Nicholson Baker, A Box of Matches (2003)
Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (2003)