Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Walk Me Home: How Bodies Move and are Moved in the Breast Cancer Walk
by Bixler, Nancy R., Ph.D., University of Washington, 2010, 216; 3445540
Abstract (Summary)

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cureā„¢ is an influential example of a common phenomenon: a public fundraiser employing exaggerated physical effort to convince people to work in certain ways towards the resolution of a sociomedical problem. This dissertation considers how bodies move and are moved, physically and rhetorically, with an emphasis on the bodily aspects of this very bodily event. Employed are Kenneth Burke's purgative-redemptive cycle; form (mainly conventional and qualitative); orientation, equipment for living, perspective by incongruity, and comic and tragic frames; and technical psychosis, efficiency, and recalcitrance. Interdisciplinarily, tapped are such fields as Anthropology, Ritual Studies (notably ritualization according to Catherine Bell), Critical Affect Studies (primarily affective contagion), and recent work on movement and space. Findings: In the 3-Day, bodies are invoked as sacrifices to sell the walk to donors; this reinscribes societal conceptions of cancer as spatially confined to the individual body and temporally beginning at the detection of cancer cells, rendering invisible possible environmental causes for cancer. Examining the walk as a ritual form, pilgrimage, shows how bodies' trajectories and alignments operate under and outside the purely cognitive to encourage framing the problem of cancer such that the 3-Day is the appropriate redress. Vernacular responses to loss, such as commemorative clothing decoration, create opportunities for processing grief, the conception of which mimics popular ideas of a staged mourning process but expands boundaries of duration and subject. Simultaneously, Bakhtinian carnivalesque displays subtly undermine the walk's overall tragic frame by playfully rendering the site of cancer, breasts, as multiple and mobile. To illustrate how the bodiliness of rhetoric may be approached, a compilation is presented of what bodies do within the 3-Day and how this works to move people. The final complex picture is of the ways bodies both reify and challenge the efficiency of the event and its reliance on medical and consumer technologies, arguing that what bodies do that cannot be done otherwise is plead the importance of the inarticulate, fragile, and essential body itself.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ceccarelli, Leah
School: University of Washington
School Location: United States -- Washington
Source: DAI-A 72/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Communication
Keywords: Breast cancer walk, Pilgrimages
Publication Number: 3445540
ISBN: 978-1-124-48881-3
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