Theoretically Ill: Autobiographer, Patient, Theorist

Gygax, Franziska. (2013) Theoretically Ill: Autobiographer, Patient, Theorist. In: The Writing Cure: Literature and Medicine in Context. Münster, pp. 173-190.

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In the recent past a great number of scholars, scientists, and university teachers have published autobiographical accounts of their experience of illness and integrated these texts into their exploration of theoretical concepts of construction of illness (e.g. Jackie Stacey or Ann Oakley). Besides academics also fiction writers and poets are theorizing their experience of illness and are commenting on the impact of the field of medicine and science (e.g. Siri Hustvedt or Tim Parks). This interface between literature and medicine is not new, and already Virginia Woolf wondered why “illness ha[d] not taken its place with love and battle and jealousy among the prime themes of literature” ( On Being Ill 3-4). Yet, this urge to combine both autobiographical narrative and theoretical discourse seems to be a characteristic of recent illness narratives, above all of narratives describing the experience of a life-threatening illness. Being confronted with a serious illness and/or possible death seems to trigger not only the need for understanding an entirely new situation, but also the need for further exploration of the social and cultural implications of (one’s) illness, in particular with regard to the narrative act. In my contribution I want to discuss the specific ways in which academics and writers theorize their experience of illness and what impact the process of theorizing has on their coping with illness. Furthermore, I want to address issues of the “narrative turn” and the effects the narrative and autobiographical act have on the theory developed in the course of these illness narratives. Texts by the following scholars and writers will be discussed: Zillah Eisenstein, Gillian Rose, Tim Parks, and Siri Hustvedt,
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:Book Section, refereed
Book Section Subtype:Further Contribution in a Book
Series Name:Kultur- und Naturwissenschaften im Dialog
Issue Number:2
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Book item
Last Modified:01 Feb 2018 15:21
Deposited On:01 Feb 2018 15:21

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