Accessibility statement

Francesca Lewis
PhD student / Research Project Co-ordinator - Violence Elsewhere Research Project



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 (including Curve Magazine, DIVA, The F Word).

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 am currently working on PhD research which builds on the ideas proposed in my MA dissertation at University of York under the supervision of Dr Clare Bielby and Dr Kristyn Gorton.

I have presented papers on Sadeian Feminism, Feminist Catharsis and Borderline Subjectivity at various conferences. 

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



My research uses the phenomenological gaze, textual analysis and creative writing, in search of a counter-diagnostic map of borderline experience. 
The diagnostic label of “borderline personality disorder” - applied mostly to women - is highly contested and plagued with stigma. Important academic work and activism is already being done on the diagnosis, making a vital difference to the treatment and care we receive in clinical settings. Though my work sits on a similar foundation of mad positive politics, my focus is outside debates of aetiology and clinical treatment. I am seeking instead to illuminate borderline experience itself. I am looking for ways of presenting, exploring, and finding meaning within the phenomenology of being “borderline”.
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 of the mirror, I engage with various texts (including the novels of Clarice Lispector, the poetry of Alejandra Pizarnik, memoirs of madness such as Schreber's Memoirs of My Nervous Illness, and writings of my own experience) 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.
Keywords: Medical Humanities, Feminism, Queer, Crip, Disability Studies, Counterdiagnosis, Creative Methodology, Reflexive, Narrative Therapy, New Materialism, Mysticism, Karen Barad, Ann Cvetkovitch, Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, Donna Haraway, Johanna Hedva, Margaret Price.


Selected publications

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

Non-Academic Writing

You can access my non-academic writing here:


Contact details

Francesca Lewis
PhD student
Centre for Women's Studies
University of York
North Yorkshire
YO10 5DD