Gender, suicide, and culture: a one-day online symposium

Online - a link will be sent to you before the event
Friday 8 July 2022 (10:00-16:00)

We have seen a rise in awareness campaigns and charities for mental health in the last decade: Calm, Let’s Get Men Talking, NHS’s recent ‘Help!’ Each speaks to the need to chip away at the stigma of being open about mental health.

In particular, there has been a notable rise in campaigns approaching men’s mental health. Male suicide rates still account for three-quarters of the suicides in the UK. This one-day symposium seeks to engage with a range of interdisciplinary discussions on the link between gender, culture, and suicide. It aims to explore the ideas around gendered approaches to suicide, and how cultural frameworks and representations shape them.

There will be a keynote to start the day, followed by three panels each exploring different approaches to the theme. Please see the schedule below for more detailed information. 

Gender, suicide, and culture symposium, Friday 8 July

  • 10:00-10;45: Opening remarks followed by Keynote: Jane Graney, University of Manchester – ‘Suicide in middle-aged men’

11:00-12:30: Panel one: Masculinities
Chair: Rebecca Wynter

  • Christina Wilkins, University of Birmingham: ‘Explanatory narratives of male suicide in literature’
  • Damien Ridge, University of Westminster: ‘We’re welcomed into people’s homes every day’ versus ‘we’re the people that come and arrest you’: The relational production of masculinities and vulnerabilities among male first-responders’
  • Chris Mounsey, University of Winchester: ‘Ian Curtis: A Legacy of Suicide’
  • Julie Gottlieb, University of Sheffield: ‘"Men, Constructions of Masculinity, and the Gendering of the War of Nerves: An 'epidemic' of war-fear triggered suicides in Britain, 1938-40"

12:30-13:15: Lunch break

13:15-14:45: Panel two: Femininities
Chair: Christina Wilkins

  • Zoe Eddy, Worcester Polytechnic Institute: ‘Surviving Ophelia and Girlhoods Interrupted: Pop Culture and the Aestheticization of Young Women’s Suicide’
  • Lee Sykes, Independent Scholar: ‘Vanishing Wo(man): Gender and Suicide through Self- Starvation in Victorian Literature’
  • Veronica Heney, University of Durham: ‘“Women in bath-tubs”: inevitability and passivity in cultural depictions of self-harm and suicide’
  • Jon Venn, University of Birmingham: ‘Troubled Suicidalities in the Representation of Women’s Suicide in Contemporary British Theatre’

15:00-16:15: Panel three: Cultural impacts
Chair: tbc

  • Douglas Morrey, University of Warwick: ‘Cultural Narratives of Suicide in Contemporary France’
  • Chrissie Maroulli, University of Cyprus: ‘Gender, Class, and Heartbreak as Suicide in the Early Modern English Ballad The Braes o Yarrow (Child 214)’
  • Sebastian Fitz-Klausner, University of Linz: ‘Youth Suicide as Protest in early 2000’s Japan – Gendering Youth Suicide and Protest in Sono Sion’s Jisatsu sākuru (2001)’
  • Filippo Cervelli and Guido Furci, SOAS: ‘Male writers suicide in Japanese literature: Kenzaburō Ōe, a case study’

4.15: Closing remarks

This symposium is organised by the Mental Health Humanities Network at the University of Birmingham.