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Literature and Medicine

Sander L Gilman
Dieting as a fashionable undertaking in the public sphere appears in the course of the long eighteenth century. It is part of a shift to an awareness of the public stigma of obesity and marks the rise of a dieting culture focused on psychological rather than a purely somatic phenomenon. It is coterminous with the redefinition of the "reasonable" (rational) person both in law as well as in the public sphere.Reasonableness comes to define the normal within a cult of the rational; obesity comes to mark that state beyond reasonableness...
2017: Literature and Medicine
Mascha Hansen
Elizabeth Carter suffered from severe headaches all her life. Her letters are peppered with references to fits of "head-ach" so bad they made her bold enough to demand her own room wherever she visited, and to cherish a preference for solitude contrary to the ideal of Bluestocking sociability. Following her friends and physicians, she bowed to fashionable diagnoses in considering these headaches the result of a nervous constitution, and she was prescribed the usual remedies, including sociable trips to fashionable watering places...
2017: Literature and Medicine
Jessica Monaghan
Throughout the eighteenth century the issue of authenticity shaped portrayals of fashionable diseases. From the very beginning of the century, writers satirized the behavior of elite invalids who paraded their delicacy as a sign of their status. As disorders such as the spleen came to be regarded as "fashionable," the legitimacy of patients' claims to suffer from distinguished diseases was called further into question, with some observers questioning the validity of the disease categories themselves. During the early and middle decades of the century, criticism was largely confined to periodicals, plays, and poetry, while medical writers wrote in defense of the authenticity of such conditions...
2017: Literature and Medicine
Clark Lawlor
This essay examines the way in which disease was framed and narrated as fashionable in the long eighteenth century, and argues that the intensifying focus on women's fashionable disorders in the period grew in tandem with the rise of an unstable capitalism in its manifold forms. Using the satirical articles written by Henry Southern in the London Magazine-"On Fashions" (August 1825), "On Fashions in Physic" (October 1825), and "On Dilettante Physic" (January 1826)-and the literature that led to them, I analyze the role that women were now taking in the newly capitalized world of the early nineteenth century...
2017: Literature and Medicine
Katherine Allen
This chapter focuses on the individualistic nature of medicine by considering manuscript recipe collections, and the concerns and rhetoric of the elite patients who wrote about fashionable diseases and experienced them. Domestic medicine in the eighteenth century was a facet of elite health care that included commercial medicine and professional assistance. Looking broadly at the fashionability of health care, including the fashionability of the consumer goods and services linked to self-management and leisure time, reveals the realities of fashionable diseases in elite lives...
2017: Literature and Medicine
Jonathan Andrews, James Kennaway
This article examines how sufferers experienced, understood, and expressed themselves as bilious, focusing on the late Georgian era when the disease became one of the most fashionable and oft diagnosed amongst the elites. We show that responses to bile were more complex, varied, and less credulous than contemporary diatribes and subsequent historiography imply. Nonetheless, we foreground the socioculturally negotiated elements of the malady rather than its "reality." Applying Rosenberg's framing diseases model reveals biliousness as one of the most problematic conditions to frame, but one of the most malleable to self-fashion...
2017: Literature and Medicine
David E Shuttleton
This essay considers why the eighteenth century has particular significance for anyone concerned with the cultural forces necessary to render a disease fashionable. A brief overview of a pervasive cult of sensibility addresses the role of popular medical writing, imaginative literature, and spas in circulating a romanticized model of nervous disorders as signs of intellectual and moral superiority. Attention is drawn to the ambiguity in the term "fashionable" implying "popular," but also something that might be contrived; to what extent were Georgian fashionable diseases merely cultural constructs? Here the medicalization of masturbation suggests a limit-case...
2017: Literature and Medicine
Jonathan Andrews, Clark Lawlor
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
2017: Literature and Medicine
Andrew W Perez
In 2006, Laura Otis provided the first English translation of five short stories written by the Spanish artist, neuroscientist, and histologist Santiago Ramón y Cajal. These stories, originally published in 1905 by Cajal under the pseudonym "Dr. Bacteria," are called "Cuentos de vacaciones: narraciones seudocientíficas" or "Vacation Stories: Pseudoscientific Tales." In 1973, a version of Cajal's manuscript "La vida en el año 6000" (Life in the year 6000) was revealed. It had remained in manuscript form since the mid-1880s and appears to be a draft of one of Cajal's unpublished "Cuentos de vacaciones...
2017: Literature and Medicine
Michael Jarvis
In Naked Lunch, the institutions and practices of science and medicine, specifically with regard to psychiatry/psychology, are symptoms of a bureaucratic system of control that shapes, constructs, defines, and makes procrustean alterations to both the mind and body of human subjects. Using sickness and junk (or heroin) as convenient metaphors for both a Cold War binary mentality and the mandatory consumption of twentieth-century capitalism, Burroughs presents modern man as fundamentally alienated from any sense of a personal self...
2017: Literature and Medicine
Alexis Soloski
Though written amid an atmosphere of unprecedented medical advance in both diagnosis and therapeutics, Karel Čapek's The White Plague takes a starkly critical stance against overconfidence in medical science and its dubious ethical orbit. This article explores Čapek's censure of those who would privilege scientific interest in disease over the holistic plight of the sufferer. Provocatively, Čapek achieves this not only via the play's content, but also-prefiguring aspects of contemporary live art practice by several decades-by placing audience members in worrying proximity to abject ill bodies...
2017: Literature and Medicine
Nicholas E Miller
With an increased focus on the intersection of literature and medicine, contagion has become something of a scholarly buzzword in early American studies: it serves metaphorically to demarcate the postcolonial other, demonstrates the transmissibility of revolutionary rhetoric, highlights the instability of republican government, and embodies fears of racial mixture. In this essay, I shift the emphasis from a discourse of contagion (often associated with a fear of the foreign) to a discourse of immunity (a fear associated with foreign immunities) in order to demonstrate a more affirmative biopolitics in Charles Brockden Brown's 1790s outbreak narratives...
2017: Literature and Medicine
Heather Chacón
The economic transactions and litigation necessary for slavery to function, coupled with the South's honor culture, meant skepticism and posturing frequently attended the buying and selling of enslaved people. This atmosphere provided opportunities for enslaved individuals familiar with the symbiotic ways their health and value intertwined to manipulate owners by feigning illness or adopting behaviors contrary to those of a "sound and sane" captive under Louisiana's redhibitory (slave warranty) law. Such actions offered a chance at preserving that which slavery denied its victims: proximity to family, a reduced chance of being sold, and an opportunity to exert agency within a strictly oppressive system...
2017: Literature and Medicine
Deanna Gross Scherger
This article examines atavism as a theory of racial science in the nineteenth-century United States that illuminates how the developing medical profession reinforced racial, class, and gender hierarchies to gain cultural authority. I use John S. Partridge's "The Pineal Eye," a little-known short story published in San Francisco's The Wave in 1894, as a case study that reveals how atavism was conceived as pathology within the purview of medical study. Partridge intertwines established atavistic discourse that asserted the Anglo-Saxon female body as paradoxically modern in terms of racial identity and primitive in terms of sex with scientific experimentation and male medical authority, resulting in evolutionary regression...
2017: Literature and Medicine
Martina Zimmermann
This essay gives an overview of the metaphors that patients in comparison to caregivers employ to conceptualize their experience with the chronic degenerative, cognitive, and incurable aspects of Alzheimer's disease. It explores how the images (such as the journey, darkness, the death sentence, and torture) relate to the narration of cognitive decline and memory loss, and how these personal accounts negotiate with the culturally dominant dementia narrative that centers on the patient's passivity and dependence and is, usually, found in caregiver stories...
2017: Literature and Medicine
Rosanna Nunan
In The Woodlanders, Hardy examines the intersections between adolescence as scientific fact and adolescence as utilitarian economic construction. Hardy posits that the emergence of adolescence as a social category provides an opportunity for further, excessive control of young women in a patriarchal society when science is taken at its word, but, paradoxically, also opens up a space for a new kind of freedom and rebellion when the adolescent condition of nineteenth-century scientific theorists is seized for the very subversive qualities which the Victorians oppose...
2017: Literature and Medicine
Heather Meek
This paper examines Frances Burney's 1812 mastectomy letter alongside contemporaneous medical treatises on the subject of breast cancer. Burney's letter offers a critique of a medical community that misconstrues her experience and can be viewed as pathography, or disability memoir. Examining the letter and the treatises in this way illuminates the brutality of some medical practices and the frequent incongruity between the patients' and the physicians' understandings of pain. However, the letter and the treatises also share much in common; both at times emphasize the patient's words and experiences, and both reveal the impressive and contradictory range of ideas surrounding breast cancer in the long eighteenth century...
2017: Literature and Medicine
Stella Bolaki
This essay considers Clare Best's poetic sequence Self-portrait without Breasts (2011) and her collaboration with photographer Laura Stevens, which explore preventive surgery and questions of genetics/hereditary breast cancer. In an era when risk and cosmetic reconstruction guide treatment and the development of new breast cancer subjects, Best reclaims the "flat simple scarred chest with no extras." I situate her poems in the context of statistics and the neoliberal postfeminist subject as well as in a poetic tradition about the post-mastectomy body as landscape...
2017: Literature and Medicine
Emma Seaber
This article explores the relationship between eating disorders and reading behaviors, arguing that there is a meaningful difference in a minority of readers' approach to and understanding of anorexia life-writing, and of literary texts more broadly. To illuminate this distinction, this article begins by considering the reported deleterious influence of Marya Hornbacher's anorexia memoir, Wasted, elaborating the ways Hornbacher offers a positive presentation of anorexia nervosa that may, intentionally or not, induce certain readers to "try it" themselves...
2016: Literature and Medicine
Pauls Daija, Eva Eglāja-Kristsone
During the nineteenth century, Latvian society experienced significant social and cultural changes due to a transition from agrarian to modern society and the emergence of a Latvian national culture. Reading, previously a mostly religious and practical activity, took new forms among the Latvian middle class and steadily began to be depicted as a dangerous pastime. In this essay, we have explored the connection between social change and pathological reading by turning attention to the rhetoric of the dangerous reading discourse, representations of effects of reading in the press, and the condemnation of female reading...
2016: Literature and Medicine
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