Submission note: A thesis submitted in total fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy [to the] School of Communication, Arts and Critical Enquiry, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University, Bundoora.
The Green Bell: a memoir of Michael Dransfield is a PhD thesis and a work of creative non-fiction. The memoir is at once a love story, a journey through madness, and an account of the last six months in the life of the poet Michael Dransfield. While its central focus is the period from September 1972 to March 1973, the narrative includes excursions both into the past and the future from within this over-arching time frame. Set in a time of social and political upheaval, The Green Bell probes the psychocultural dimension of the personal crises facing the three main protagonists: Michael Dransfield, Julianne Gilroy, and the author, Paula Keogh. It recounts their experiences as patients in psychiatric wards suffering psychological breakdown while struggling with questions concerning love and death, and how to make sense of a world committed to materialism, war, and environmental destruction. It also engages with issues relating to drugs, sexual politics and feminism as it investigates questions of identity and survival. The Green Bell belongs firmly within the genre of memoir, but it integrates theoretical material and research relating to the themes it addresses, especially those of madness and psychiatry. It reflects on the vagaries of memory and discovers that the past is a play of memory, imagination and the present moment. Finally, this memoir describes the author’s encounters with death, not only as an eighteen and twenty-three-year-old, but also forty years later, as she remembers her friends and tells her story.
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