On Being Ill (in Great Britain and the US): Illness Narratives of the Self

Gygax, Franziska. (2013) On Being Ill (in Great Britain and the US): Illness Narratives of the Self. European Journal of Life Writing, 2. pp. 1-17.

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Illness narratives, pathographies and autopathographies, have been published in recent years in great number and so have critical studies on the cultural and social constructions of illness and on the impact such texts have on the writer and the reader. Yet few studies have analysed cultural differences between American and British illness narratives and addressed the issue of the different tradition of confessional writing in America and in Britain. In my paper I want to explore potential cultural differences between selected British and American illness narratives and focus on the specific ways in which the suffering self is constructed: How do the sick autobiographers theorize the act of writing about their illness? How do they represent themselves as authors and patients? How are the deteriorating body and impending death represented in these texts? My discussion of the suffering self will rely on Emmanuel Levinas and his concept of self and other that has influenced theories of affect studies, a field that also addresses notions of self and otherness. As the three British and also the three American autobiographers have all been acknowledged writers before the publication of their illness narratives, the aesthetic impact of these literary texts must be discussed as well since these narratives go beyond the personal experience of an illness.
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaften > Fachbereich Englische Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft
UniBasel Contributors:Gygax, Franziska
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:University of Amsterdam
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:22 Nov 2021 16:37
Deposited On:22 Nov 2021 16:37

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