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Francesca Lewis




Searching for counter-diagnostic meaning within borderline experience

My research searches for counter-diagnostic meaning within borderline experience, through creative and diffractive readings of literature, film, TV and art, and engagements with psychiatric medical humanities, queer & feminist theory, post-humanism, new materialism, and the mystical.

Representations of borderline experience – diagnostic, artistic, personal – risk merely tracing it from the outside, along familiar and normative lines. I am striving for an embodied perspective, a view of the terrain from within, and a process that avoids limiting binaries like order/disorder, coherence/incoherence, affective/intellectual and wellness/sickness.

Through diffractive reading and the recurring object/subject image of the mirror, I engage with various texts (Clarice Lispector, Alejandra Pizarnik, Daniel Paul Schreber, Netflix series Russian Doll) in search of ways to look at/as/with the borderline. Ultimately, I hope to highlight possibilities for counter-therapeutic meaning and meaningfulness to be found within borderline experience.



I completed a BA (Hons) in English Literature with Creative Writing at Edge Hill University, before spending a few years writing theatre reviews for local news and freelancing for a number of queer and feminist publications. In 2016 I embarked on postgraduate study with an MA in Interdisciplinary Psychology from Leeds Beckett University, where I received the highest grade ever awarded on the programme for my dissertation, Borderline Subjectivity: A Social Psychoanalytic Reframing of A Stigmatised Way of Being.

I teach (GTA) Social Psychology in the Department of Sociology. As a member of the FRACS committee in the Centre for Women's Studies, I have delivered workshops on Mental Health & Wellbeing and Feminist Poetry.

I am also Research Project Co-ordinator on the Violence Elsewhere Research Project with Dr Clare Bielby.


Research Interests

Medical Humanities, Feminism, Queer Theory, Disability Studies, Counterdiagnosis, Creative Methodology, Reflexivity, Narrative, New Materialism, Mysticism.



Conference Papers

Lewis, F. (2007). ‘Angela Carter & the Marquis de Sade: The Plausibility of Sadeian Feminism’, paper presented at GenSex, Edge Hill University.

Lewis, F. (2010). ‘Amanda Palmer & Tori Amos: Feminist Catharsis’, paper presented at Gender & Difference, Cardiff University.

Lewis, F. (2018). ‘Borderline Subjectivity’, paper presented at Global Mental Health and Therapeutic Assemblages, Sheffield.

Lewis, F. (2020). '‘From Clinical Gaze to Epoché: creative, counter-diagnostic explorations of
borderline experience through phenomenology’, paper presented at 3rd Congress of Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research, Sheffield.


Lewis, F. (2020) 'Reflection/Diffraction: “Russian Doll” (2019) and the Phenomenology of Being Borderline'. The Polyphony. Available at:

Contact details

Francesca Lewis
School of Arts and Creative Technologies