Illness narratives have become a cultural phemen in the Western world but in what ways can they be seen to have aesthetic, ethical and political value? What do they reveal about experiences of illness, the relationship between the body and identity and the role of the arts in bearing witness to illness for people who are ill and those connected to them? How can they influence medicine, the arts and shape public understandings of health and illness? These questions and more are explored in Illness as Many Narratives, which contains readings of a rich array of representations of illness from the 1980s to the present. A wide range of arts and media are considered such as life writing, photography, performance, film, theatre, artists' books and animation. The individual chapters deploy multidisciplinary critical frameworks and discuss physical and mental illness. Through reading this book you will gain an understanding of the complex contribution illness narratives make to contemporary culture and the emergent field of Critical Medical Humanities.
Stella Bolaki is Lecturer in American Literature in the School of English at the University of Kent.