Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Forget burial illness, narrative, and the reclamation of disease
by Fink, Marty (Melissa), Ph.D., City University of New York, 2010, 257; 3409232
Abstract (Summary)

Through a theoretical and archival analysis of HIV/AIDS literature, this dissertation argues that the AIDS crisis is not an isolated incident that is now “over,” but a striking culmination of a long history of understanding illness through narratives of queer sexual decline and national outsiderhood. Literary representations of HIV/AIDS can be read as a means of resistance to the stigmatization of people of color, women, immigrants, and queers, debunking the narratives that vilify these subjects as threats to national security and health. In drawing connections between illness, history, and the African diaspora, my work adopts a queer theoretical approach to illuminate how boundaries around sexual and gender identities are often intertwined with representations of nationality and race. Through a feminist analysis of novels by Sarah Schulman, Rebecca Brown, Jamaica Kincaid, Patricia Powell and Octavia Butler, this project demonstrates how discourses of HIV/AIDS have been metaphorically and linguistically connected to symbols ranging from national borders to capitalist commodities, and even gothic vampires. In conjunction with these fictional texts, I concurrently undertake an archival study of writing by community leaders from the first decade of the pandemic whose work successfully countered and reinscribed harmful narratives of HIV/AIDS. By integrating transnational literature with archival materials by New York City-based writers including Iris De La Cruz, Katrina Haslip, and Bradley Ball, my work communicates the urgency of transcending national borders and narrative genres to effectively confront the HIV/AIDS pandemic on a global scale.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Reid-Pharr, Robert
Commitee: Kruger, Steven, Webb, Barbara
School: City University of New York
Department: English
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Caribbean literature, LGBTQ studies, American literature, Gender studies
Keywords: Antigua, Brown, Rebecca, Butler, Octavia E., Disease, HIV/AIDS, Illness, Kincaid, Jamaica, Narrative, Powell, Patricia, Queer, Race, Schulman, Sarah
Publication Number: 3409232
ISBN: 978-1-124-06522-9
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