This essay examines the position of illness within a capitalist economy, exploring how labor, production, and consumption change through the bodily experiences of illness. Using contemporary poetry by Elizabeth Arnold and Anne Boyer, I suggest first that the experience of illness places women in an alternative economy, not unlike the familiar ways in which women are routinely devalued when their labor is under-appreciated or under(/un)compensated. I argue that being ill often challenges the productivity required by capitalism, and that as a response, experiences of illness play a role in the formation of an alternative economy. Within these new economic structures, affective experiences of pain and disgust—typically devalued in a capitalist economy—become foundational features of taste formation. The poets I examine here explore this complicated affect to suggest that experiences of pain can have important economic and affective effects.


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pp. 164-189
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