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Sarah Hagaman

In 2023-2024, Sarah Hagaman will be a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in English literature. Her research and teaching interests include transmedial 20th- and 21st-century portrayals of mental illness, psychiatry, and mad aesthetics in poetry, experimental fiction, television, and comedy. Her dissertation, The (Post)confessional Mode, traces how feminist confessions favor of parodic and performative modes when portraying complex medical conditions, especially mental illness. Texts and performances by feminist artists including Sylvia Plath, Sharon Olds, Meri Nana-Ama Danquah, Clarice Lispector, Kathy Acker, Karen Finley, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Taylor Tomlinson, and Aminah Imani represent how counterauthenticity—and the desire for evasion over authenticity—characterizes what she terms the postconfessional mode for post-1945 feminist artists, especially those using mad aesthetics or portraying clinical mental illness. 

A portion of Sarah’s project has been published in Medical HumanitiesBMJ and received the Vanderbilt English Department Aden Award for Best Graduate Student Essay (2023). Another portion of her dissertation is forthcoming in Literature and Medicine, and her work on Kathy Acker’s early enactments of contemporary autotheoretical modes is published in Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction. She currently researches the intersections of privacy, genetics, and culture with Vanderbilt’s NIH-funded transdisciplinary project, GetPreCiSe: The Center for Genetic Privacy and Identity in Community Settings.