Anirban Halder – Chronic Illnesses

Chronic Illnesses and the Question of Political Pain in Contemporary Fiction and Film

The dissertation refers to two broad and interrelated concepts: chronic conditions (such as, HIV, thalassemia, hypochondria and domestic trauma) and how living with certain conditions over time inform dialogues between “having” pain and “witnessing” pain as a sociohistorical phenomenon. Just as I am interested in examining the facts of illnesses/conditions, my work is also invested in thinking about constructions of chronic conditions to understand how particular political and theoretical interventions are made possible by exploring narratives from literature, film and the clinic.

The project looks at the (dis)connections illness narratives strike when they reflect upon immigrant, queer diasporic and traumatic experiences set in North American contexts. By mobilizing a politically engaged definition of pain, the project asks how pain’s engagement with cultural processes continually inflects narratives of bodily and mental conditions. My project borrows from the fields of trauma and memory studies, representations of everyday life and narrative medicine; these fields are explored in relation to one another in my close reading of my primary texts.

Author: Anirban Halder