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The illness of narrative: reframing the question of limits

Greco, Monica ; Stenner, Paul


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URN: urn:nbn:de:hebis:26-opus-161757
URL: http://geb.uni-giessen.de/geb/volltexte/2021/16175/


Freie Schlagwörter (Englisch): narrativity , Dostoevsky , medical humanities , narrative medicine , liminality
Universität Justus-Liebig-Universit√§t Gie√üen
Institut: International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture
Fachgebiet: Gießener Graduiertenzentrum Kulturwissenschaften
DDC-Sachgruppe: Literatur, Rhetorik, Literaturwissenschaft
Dokumentart: Aufsatz
Zeitschrift, Serie: On_Culture : the Open Journal for the Study of Culture ; 11
ISBN / ISSN: 2856008-5
Sprache: Englisch
Erstellungsjahr: 2021
Publikationsdatum: 30.07.2021
Kurzfassung auf Englisch: This paper uses Dostoevsky‚Äôs Notes from the Underground as the starting point for a critique of the assumption that engaging with narratives enhances well-being. While the ‚Äėlimits of narrative‚Äô have long been an object of critique by scholars in the medical humanities, the question of limits has been posed primarily in terms of whether nar-rativity can be considered an anthropological universal, and in terms of what (or whom) a privileging of narrativity might exclude. Through Dostoevsky, we reframe this problem by asking whether the construction of selves through narrative can and should be regarded as a ‚Äėhealthy‚Äô norm, even for those in whom this activity ap-pears to come naturally. Dostoevsky identified a dark side to the ‚Äėheightened con-sciousness‚Äô associated with supposedly enlightened modern individuals. He critiques a tendency towards ever increasing abstraction from concrete existence and embodies this critique in the character of the ‚Äúunderground man,‚ÄĚ a man plagued by sickness and distress, partly because he can only conduct his life on the basis of what he has read. The paper urges those working in the medical humanities today to formulate an adequate response to the paradoxes exhibited in Dostoevsky‚Äôs great novel.
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