Annotated Bibliography with Proposal by Leah Hastedt

See Leah’s Inquiry 2B here.

Annotated Bibliography

Fairchild, Amy L. “Leprosy, Domesticity, and Patient Protest: The Social Context of a Patients’ Rights Movement in Mid-Century America.” George Mason University Press, June-July 2006. Web. 15 Feb. 2011.

The article analyzes how patients in mental institutions became more aware of their rights, beginning in 1960. When searching for an article about mental institutions in the 1960s, I was hoping to find something that would relate to the role Nurse Ratched held in the mental institution in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and perhaps additional insight to other characters’ roles in the novel and why certain people held them. This source was helpful because it examined how mental health patients became more aware of their rights. I thought immediately of how the patients in the institution in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest did not seem to know what their rights were. Looking more in depth at this source will help me develop this issue further.


“First Measured Century: Interview: Alice Kessler-Harris.” PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. 2001. Web. 14 Feb. 2011.

This interview details the Feminist Movement of the 1960s– what it was about and how what happened in previous years led up to its occurrence. This source was investigated to find out more about the Feminist Movement of the 1960s and how it may relate to what roles women held and how powerful they were in the 1960s. Depending on what I found for this question, I may or may not be able to relate it to what roles were held in the mental institution in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Nurse Ratched was in the highest position of authority at the institution and I wanted to learn if this was an unusual occurrence and how much literary license the author may have been using in developing one of his main characters. This article was extremely helpful in my understanding of what happened during the 1960s with women’s roles and power. One particular thing I found helpful was why the Feminist Movement occurred when it did in the 1960s, which was because of the large amount of women moving into the workforce. Maybe Kesey was thinking about this when he put a woman in charge of all these men in a mental institution.


Jimenez, Mary Ann. “Gender and Psychiatry: Psychiatric Conceptions of Mental Disorders in Women, 1960-1994.” SAGE. June-July 1997. Web. 15 Feb. 2011.

This source examines mental health in women in the 1960s. Hysteria is a prevalent theme as well in this article. I was searching for information about how mental illnesses were treated during the 1960s to possibly relate it One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. An interesting quote I found that might be helpful is: “Changes in gender roles, in the social relations of power, and in the understanding of sexuality which began in the 1960s, marginalized both the biological and classic psychoanalytic perspectives as explanations of women’s mental disorders in American psychiatry.” It also says something about hysteria changing the social construction of gender, transforming the role of women. This may be helpful when I discuss Nurse Ratched’s role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The article does not really say anything about treating mental illness, so if this is what I want to focus on, I should look for a different source.


Leupo, Kimberly. “The History of Mental Illness.” Web. 14 Feb. 2011.

This source summarizes the history of the American mental institution and how mental illness was viewed and treated from Colonial America through the 1980’s. It covers what mental institutions are, what patients were like at these institutions, how these institutions grew and evolved through the years, how treatments varied and became more sophisticated, and how de-institutionalization became more likely in the Second Half of the 20th century. This source was selected because it could help me learn more about the management of mental institutions and treatments used within them during the time One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was written (novel written by Ken Kesey in 1959 and published in 1962). I wanted to see if this source would corroborate the portrayal of the institution in the novel regarding the gender/race makeup of management and the types of treatment provided to the inmates. This source provided some information I did not know about mental health/institutions, but did not answer all of my specific questions.


“United States History – The Civil Rights Movement 1960-1980.” Country Studies. 2003. Web. 14 Feb. 2011.

This source provides a synopsis of the civil rights movement in the United States during the 1960-1980 period. This source was selected because I thought it would give me more insight into the mood of the country during the 1960s while the civil rights movement was beginning its ascendancy. Did African-American men have much power? Did women? When did they begin to assume powerful roles and/or positions of authority? I ask these questions because many of these traits ran through One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It seems as if the novel portrays a “reversal of roles” from real society in the 1960’s.  Women and black men did not hold positions of authority like the ones they held in the book. In this article, it states, “The struggle of black Americans for equality reached its peak in the mid-1960s”. This shows that African-Americans would not have held positions of authority/jobs like the ones held in the mental institution in the book.



When one reads One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, many themes and characters are presented to the reader. It is a very powerful novel from the 1960s because of its setting, characters, and what goes on in the mental institution including the fascinating interaction of the characters. The novel’s author, Ken Kesey, creates a vivid picture of the stark life inside a mental institution, the multi-dimensional personalities of the inmates residing there, and the controlling nature of the people in power at the mental institution.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was written in 1959 and published in 1962, concurrent with two of the major cultural developments in the history of the United States– the Civil Rights Movement was beginning to reach its peak in 1962-1963 and the Feminist Movement was beginning to build momentum within the country. The roles of women in society were beginning to change and evolve, and segregation, while being far from over, was about to become less of a major issue. These are some of the main points I plan to discuss in my paper for Inquiry 2b.

I will focus primarily on a central character in the novel, Nurse Ratched. When compared with the norms of American society around 1960, this novel presented a very distinct reversal of typical roles. I will explore how women normally were not in positions of power at this time, how Nurse Ratched handled this authority, and how she related to and treated the inmates. I will relate women’s’ roles in the book to their typical roles in the 1960’s and see if the assumptions I made in my annotated bibliography and earlier in the proposal are true. Another role reversal I plan to explore relates to Nurse Ratched’s black male security assistants. At this phase of the Civil Rights Movement, it would have been unusual to have black employees in positions of authority and the author may have been predicting the future because of what he saw happening within the movement.

I am confident that I will have enough information from researched sources to analyze properly the cultural/historical context of several characters within One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Analyzing a main character, Nurse Ratched, and several secondary characters, the black security assistants, will help me explore things I never would have considered before doing this research. By using this approach to examine the cultural context of this book, I believe I will develop a new and different appreciation for Ken Kesey’s novel.


Editorial Team’s Note

As you will note when reading the essays in Cultural/Historical Analysis (otherwise known as Inquiry 2B), you will notice an essay on One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Below is the Inquiry 2A assignment that prepared Hastedt for her paper. Hastedt clearly has in mind specific cultural contexts that she thinks will help her and her audience see the novel in a new light. With each entry in her annotated bibliography, she notes the most important information and how it can possibly be applied to the novel (rather than just summarizing it). This culminates in her proposal that clearly maps out what kind of questions she will explore using this research for Inquiry 2B. Researching for a paper involves far more than just collecting material; researching itself is an exploratory act that allows the writer to think about and explore her ideas in the context of others. Hastedt’s work sets a fine example for this process.