Harper, Stephen Books

About the author: Stephen Harper is the author of several articles on the topics of gender and subjectivity in Middle English Literature. He is a Lecturer in Communication Studies at the University of Glasgow’s Crichton Campus in Dumfries, Scotland.

Insanity, Individuals and Society in Late-Medieval English Literature
2003 0-7734-6752-1
This study examines representations of madness in a variety of late-medieval texts, showing how writers exploited the conventional understandings of madness for personal and political purposes. This interdisciplinary book begins by examining the literary conventions and medical treatments of madness in medieval Britain and challenges romantic and progressivist theories about the history of madness. The author emphasizes that madness was regarded not merely as a metaphor for spiritual turpitude, but also as a rationally explicable phenomenon and that different conceptions of madness are often mobilized within the same text. As well as showing how madness functions in many literary texts as a metaphor for opposition to social repression, Harper shows how autobiographers such as Thomas Hoccleve and Margery Kempe make use of conflicting conceptions of madness to establish themselves as figures of authority and probity