PhD Student

Penny Busetto

Penny Grieve Busetto is a South African born writer who studied, lived and worked in Italy for about twenty years years before returning to settle in Cape Town in 1996. She is the author of a novel, The Story of Anna P, as Told by Herself, which developed out of her MA dissertation in the Creative Writing programme at UCT and which won the European Union Literary Award in 2013. Apart from English literature, her undergraduate studies include Fine Arts (University of Perugia), Philosophy (University of Milan), Law (UNISA), Education (UCT), Psychology and Anthropology (UNISA). She has a deep interest in Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry, is a member of the Public Programme committee of the Southern African Association of Jungian Analysts, participates in the monthly ethics seminars at Valkenberg Mental Hospital, and has run a seminar series on Madness and South African Literature to final year English students at UCT.

Penny is currently doing an interdisciplinary PhD in UCT's English Department, under the supervision of Prof Carrol Clarkson and Prof Mark Solms, exploring the work of a psychiatrist, Dr BJF Laubscher, who was in charge of the black patients at a mental hospital in the Eastern Cape in the 1930’s and who published Sex, Custom and Psychopathology; a Study of South African Pagan Natives in 1937 in which he attempted to make sense of the madness of his patients using a Freudian paradigm. She is the recipient of an NRF Innovation scholarship.

Penny presented a paper, An Uneasy Alliance: Psychiatry, Social Control and Power, at an international Philosophy conference entitled Mental Illness and Power hosted by the University of Memphis, Tennessee in February 2014. She has been invited to speak at a Psychoanalytic conference, Necessary Fictions, hosted by the International Forum for Psychoanalytic Education, IFPE, in San Francisco in November 2014. The title of her paper is The Paradox of Truth at the Heart of Meaning. She has published several papers in Mantis, the Southern African peer-reviewed journal of depth psychology.

She considers it a privilege to be studying at UCT, which she finds extraordinarily supportive and stimulating and tolerant of the multiplicity of her interests. Apart from her supervisors she has ongoing conversations with staff from many other disciplines including Psychiatry, Philosophy, History, the Archive Project and Fine Arts, whose generosity and intellectual curiosity enrich her research enormously. She spends a great deal of time in various parts of UCT’s libraries and special collections and is particularly grateful for their outstanding facilities and staff.