Reading group

**UPDATE**: The face-to-face reading group is currently on hold due to Covid-19. We are moving online with the first virtual group scheduled for Thursday 16th July 2020. Zoom reading groups continue in 2021.

The topic for each month is on the home page of this site.

  • When: Third Tuesday of each month, 7-8.30pm AEST
  • Where: online due to COVID-19
  • RSVP: most welcome but not necessary –

Who can attend? 

The Mad Studies Reading Group is open to anyone who is interested in critical approaches to mental and emotional well-being and distress. The voices of consumers and survivors of the mental health system are valued and privileged, but all are warmly welcome.

Where is RMIT Building 13?

What to expect?

The intention of this reading group is to hold space in a way that allows participants to engage with the texts together, reflect on our own personal experiences in relation to the texts, and learn from the texts and each other.

Each monthly reading group typically involves a brief introduction from the facilitators (or a guest facilitator). The majority of our time together is then dedicated to discussion. Depending on the size of the group, this may involve smaller group discussions.

We are inspired by critical pedagogical (teaching/learning) theories, like Paulo Freire’s (1970) Pedagogies of the Oppressed and bell hooks’ (1991) Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. This means we see the space as co-created by all of us, that we are all learning together and that learning together can be powerful. We don’t see participants in the reading group as coming with empty heads to be filled with knowledge (what Freire calls the traditional “banking model” of education, where education is understood to involve putting “deposits” of pre-formed knowledge into students’ heads) – we respect that people bring considerable knowledge and life experience. We also recognise that some people might feel most comfortable listening. It’s all welcome.

There are many different ways a reading group can be structured, and we are all learning how to hold this space together, so that it is as generative as possible. No doubt the group will change and evolve over time!

About the reading group:

This reading group was established in June 2019, modelled closely on Mad Studies reading groups organised by Foundation Perceval in Amsterdam and Off the Wall in Sydney.

From Off the Wall’s website: ‘Inspired by the notion of theory as an emancipatory and reparative tool, the group convenors introduce academic, autobiographical and literary texts that challenge the dominant bio-medical, neoliberal and imperialist models of mental distress and highlight the political, cultural and institutional factors at play in maintaining the status quo… During the group meetings the participants are invited to reflect on the texts, as well as the current Australian mental health system and their own experiences through the prism of the new knowledges. The focus remains on learning together, learning from each other. …

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