Introduction

By McCance, Dawne | Mosaic (Winnipeg), June 2002 | Go to article overview

Introduction


McCance, Dawne, Mosaic (Winnipeg)


Here, for Mosaic readers, is an issue that both theorizes and performs the interdisciplinarity that this journal is all about. The opening roundtable, taped in June 2001 at the No Sense of Discipline conference at the University of Queensland, Australia, brings together four of the world's leading scholars in a discussion of the disciplines, and interdisciplinarity, in today's university: Sander Gilman, Linda Hutcheon, Michael Hutcheon, and Helen Tiffin. All four of these scholars are well known for their work on representations of the body, healthy and diseased, and on the intersections of medicine and literature, which, as Sander Gilman puts it, "are not two worlds" after all. "Both address basic questions of the nature of life and death, using different means and different approaches--yet both use language to narrate and communicate." As it turns out, several of the essays in this issue are cases in point. They are essays that bring medicine and literature together so as to show us that, while there are di fferent sets of tools, there is only one world.

Anne McWhir, in "Mary Shelley's Anti-Contagionism: The Last Man as 'Fatal Narrative,'" demonstrates how Shelley's novel reflects on and literalizes the disease theory of her day. "Because it does so from an explicitly anti-contagionist perspective," McWhir writes, "Shelley's novel transforms a relatively straightforward discourse of cause and effect into one of mystery, uncertainty, and insidious influence." William Major, in his essay, asks whether the subject of illness narrative might be a special case, "somehow different from the subjects of other forms of life writing." Approaching Audre Lorde as his "autopathographer," and reading through "the lens of postmodern theories of identity," Major's "Audre Lorde's The Cancer Journals: Autopathography as Resistance," raises ethical questions that bear on the autonomy of those who are seriously ill. Andrzej Dziedzic, in "Entre l'art de guerir et l'art d'ecrire: Rene Bretonnayau," through a close reading of Bretonnayau's work, demonstrates that, for this sixteen th-century physician at least, medical knowledge can be translated into poetic discourse. …

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