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Type: Journal article
Title: The transfigured body and the ethical turn in australian illness memoir
Author: Nettelbeck, A.
Citation: Journal of Medical Humanities, 2008; 29(3):163-172
Publisher: Springer New York LLC
Issue Date: 2008
ISSN: 1041-3545
Statement of
Amanda Nettelbeck
Abstract: Within the fields of social medicine and the medical humanities, chronic illness is acknowledged not just as an individually but as a socially transformative experience. The proliferation of published ‘illness narratives’ in recent years attests to the socially compelling nature of this particular story of transformation. Indeed, illness narratives have, in the past decade or so, become a rich source of interest in sociological and medical anthropological work for their capacity to map the material transformation of person to patient, of an assumed to a newly fluid model of subjectivity. Their significance is particularly visible in the cultural context of the west, where more people live both to be diagnosed with chronic illnesses (such as cancer) and to survive them. With a focus on two recently published Australian works, Eating the Underworld: A Memoir in Three Voices (2001), by the psychologist Doris Brett, and Tiger’s Eye: A Memoir (2001), by the historian Inga Clendinnen, this paper will consider how the illness experience marks a transformation of embodied subjectivity that, in turn, triggers transformations of other kinds. These works have quite different intents, but they provide models for exploring how physical and individual transformation through illness becomes the occasion for reconsidering the body of history, and of the resonances of history in social memory.
Keywords: Illness memoir; Social history; Polyphonic narratives
Description: The original publication can be found at
RMID: 0020083983
DOI: 10.1007/s10912-008-9061-5
Appears in Collections:English publications

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