The Art and Politics in East Asia Workshop
Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations
With a response offered by
Valerie Levan, Ph.D candidate, Comparative Literature
Friday, April 24
In 1930s Japan, writings by patients with Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) became popular enough that critics referred to it as a distinct genre, Hansen’s Disease literature. I explore the purposes this genre served for patients, doctors, and the received literary history. By exploring the connections this writing makes between medical and literary discourse, I examine the role of the body and experience in patient writing, and the relationship of the category of patient writing to dominant literary genres, with a particular emphasis on Hansen’s Disease literature and shishôsetsu, or autobiographical fiction. I argue that restoring this genre to Japanese literary history is crucial to demonstrating the social and political implications occluded from mainstream literary categories.
This paper is a very rough draft of my dissertation proposal. Please do not circulate.
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