Next Article in Journal
Depictions of American Indians in George Armstrong Custer’s My Life on the Plains
Next Article in Special Issue
“Our Self-Undoing”: Christina Rossetti’s Literary and Somatic Expressions of Graves’ Disease
Previous Article in Journal
Demonizing the Enemy, Literally: Tolkien, Orcs, and the Sense of the World Wars
Previous Article in Special Issue
Prescribed Reading: Reflective Medical Narratives and the Rise of the Medimoir: An Interview with Adam Kay
Article Menu
Issue 1 (March) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Humanities 2019, 8(1), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8010055

Body Fluids and Fluid Bodies: Trans-Corporeal Connections in Contemporary German Narratives of Illness

Department of Psychiatry II, University of Ulm, Bezirkskrankenhaus Günzburg, 89312 Günzburg, Germany
Received: 26 January 2019 / Revised: 1 March 2019 / Accepted: 3 March 2019 / Published: 12 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Medical Narratives of Ill Health)
  |  
PDF [276 KB, uploaded 27 March 2019]

Abstract

Medicine uses body fluids for the construction of medical knowledge in the laboratory and at the same time considers them as potentially infectious or dirty. In this model, bodies are in constant need of hygienic discipline if they are to adhere to the ideal of the closed and clean organism without leakage of fluids. In contrast, psychoanalytical feminist body theory by Julia Kristeva (1982), Elisabeth Grosz (1989) and Margrit Shildrick (1999) has deconstructed the abject body and its fluids in Western culture and medicine. While postmodern feminism has often focused on discourses about bodies and illness to the neglect of their materiality, more recently, material feminism has drawn particular attention to lived material bodies with fluid boundaries and evolving corporeal practices (Alaimo and Hekman 2007). Stacy Alaimo has developed a model of the trans-corporeal body that is connected with the environment through fluid boundaries and exchanges (2010, 2012). Influenced by these trends in feminist body theory, illness narratives, often based on autobiographical experiences of female patients or their caregivers, have increased in recent decades in the West (Lorde 1980; Mairs 1996; Stefan 2007; Schmidt 2009; Hustvedt 2010). Such narratives often describe explicitly the material and affective aspects of intimate bodily experiences. In this article, I analyze two German quest narratives of illness: Charlotte Roche’s pop novel Feuchtgebiete (2008) and Detlev Buck’s German-Cambodian film Same Same But Different (2010) that is based on the memoir Wohin Du auch gehst by German journalist Benjamin Prüfer (2007). In both narratives, the protagonists and their partners struggle in their search for love and identity with illness or injury in relation to body fluids, including hemorrhoids and HIV. I argue that Feuchtgebiete and Same Same But Different not only critique medical and cultural discourses on body (fluids) and sexuality but also foreground a feminist trans-corporeal concept of the body and of body fluids that is open to fluid identities and material connections with the (global) environment. At the same time, the conventional and sentimental ending of these quest narratives undermines the possibilities of the trans-corporeal body and its fluid exchanges. View Full-Text
Keywords: illness narrative; body fluids; abjection; body theory; material feminism; trans-corporeality; quest narrative illness narrative; body fluids; abjection; body theory; material feminism; trans-corporeality; quest narrative
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
SciFeed

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Herges, K. Body Fluids and Fluid Bodies: Trans-Corporeal Connections in Contemporary German Narratives of Illness. Humanities 2019, 8, 55.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics

1

Comments

[Return to top]
Humanities EISSN 2076-0787 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top