The Cultural Discourses of Breast Cancer Narratives
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Michigan Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Acknowledgments
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Introduction: Representing Breast Cancer in the Twenty-first Century
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Narratives that explore women’s lived experience of breast cancer and interrogate its cultural discourses provide the focus of my study, which offers a critical analysis of postmillennial autobiographical and photographic representations of this life-threatening illness. ...
1. Postmillennial Breast Cancer Photo-narratives: Technologized Terrain
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Visual and autobiographical narratives that explore women’s lived experience of breast cancer and its cultural discourses are the subject of this book, which offers a critical analysis of postmillennial representations of a gendered and potentially lethal illness.1 ...
2. Audre Lorde's Successors: Breast Cancer Narratives as Feminist Theory
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The compelling legacy of the self-described “Black lesbian feminist warrior poet” Audre Lorde (1934–92) has been the subject of significant critical commentary by theorists of breast cancer during the past decade. In Beyond Slash, Burn, and Poison Marcy Jane Knopf-Newman claims that both The Cancer Journals (1980), ...
3. Narratives of Prophylactic Mastectomy: Mapping the Breast Cancer Gene
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In Manmade Breast Cancer Zillah Eisenstein offers not only a feminist manifesto but also a genealogical narrative of her family’s illness history: “I want to go deeply into my body’s story, which is entwined with my mother’s and sisters’ bodies. . . . If there is such a thing as genetically inherited breast cancer, I most probably have it” (1–4). ...
4. Rebellious Humor in Breast Cancer Narratives: Deflating the Culture of Optimism
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Despite the seriousness of the disease, not all breast cancer narratives are somber; many are actually funny. Indeed, rebellious humor serves as an antidote to resignation and despair in postmillennial autobiographical writing by scores of U.S. women about their cancer experience, from diagnosis to surgery to chemotherapy and/or radiation to recovery and/ or recurrence. ...
5. New Directions in Breast Cancer Photography: Documenting Women's Post-operative Bodies
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Photographic representations of women living with or beyond breast cancer have gained prominence in recent decades due to increasing incidences and heightened public awareness of this disease. Visual breast cancer narratives constitute both documentary projects and dialogic sites of self-construction, for all “selves” are texts to be deciphered, ...
6. Cancer Narratives and an Ethics of Commemoration: Susan Sontag, Annie Leibovitz, and David Rieff
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Susan Sontag’s cultural critique of cancer stigmatization in Illness as Metaphor (1977) and her theoretical musings in On Photography (1977) and Regarding the Pain of Others (2003) offer rich insights through which to analyze photographic and literary representations of Sontag’s own experience with cancer by Annie Leibovitz (her lover) ...
7. Bodies, Witness, Mourning: Reading Breast Cancer Autoanatography
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The critical term autothanatography is in one sense redundant, for as Susanna Egan acknowledges in Mirror Talk: Genres of Crisis in Contemporary Autobiography, “the spectre of death hovers over all autobiography, usually unnamed” (196). However, in breast cancer memoirs written by women whose disease has metastasized to stage four ...
Afterword: What Remains
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As a final consideration of the public impact of autothanatographic projects that reckon with breast cancer, let us turn to Lisa Saltzman’s theories of commemorative art in Making Memory Matter, where she offers rich avenues for exploring “the aesthetic dimensions and the ethical capacities of visual objects that pursue the question of memory in the present” (11–12). ...
Appendix: Links to Selected Breast Cancer Websites and Blogs
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Page Count: 264
Illustrations: 12 halftones, 7 color images
Publication Year: 2013