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Title: Communicating disease : the Caribbean and the medical imagination, 1764–1834
Author: Senior, Emily
ISNI:       0000 0004 2695 5729
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis addresses the relationship between colonial literature and disease. Focusing on literary and medical texts written in and about the British Caribbean during the period 1764-1834, I use the framing concept of ‘medicalization’ to emphasize the cultural imperative to respond to colonial disease and to establish the points of intersection between literary and medical encounters with illness in the tropics. Recent interdisciplinary scholarship has examined a literary paradigm engaged with medical knowledge, and critics have embraced the idea of illness as an experience which is shaped by language and culture. There remains a critical gap, however, in accounts of medicine in terms of its generic characteristics, and of how literary forms impact upon medical knowledge. Furthermore, while several scholars have developed accounts of colonial disease in terms of their metropolitan literary repercussions, writing from the colonies has played only a subsidiary role. My interdisciplinary approach engages with disease, literature and medicine as forms of narrative. Understanding both disease and medicine as culturally constituted ‘narratives’, I situate them in relation to textual narratives, in order to address the relationship between literature and medicine in three key ways. Firstly, I consider the thematic and stylistic points of overlap between literary and medical rhetorical strategies; secondly, I examine the textual consequences of writing about illness, and, thirdly, I use the idea of ‘contagion’ to connect ideas about language and disease. By addressing not only the issues of why the vocabulary of medicine featured so prominently in colonial literary texts and how this medical impetus took shape, but also the effects of literary modes on medical textuality, I trace the points of conceptual and structural transfer between literary and medical writing.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Arts & Humanities Research Council (Great Britain) (AHRC) ; University of Wisconsin
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR English literature ; R Medicine (General)