Special Issue "Photo-Textual Disorders: Writing, Photography and Illness"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 October 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Giorgia Alù
Website
Guest Editor
School of Languages and Cultures, University of Sydney, A18 Brennan MacCallum Building, Camperdown, Sydney NSW 2006, Australia
Interests: literature and photography; photographic theory; travel writing; women’s writing; modern Italian literature

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Since the invention of photography was announced in 1839, photographic aesthetics, practices and products have inspired literature in its varied forms. The development of the photographic camera in the nineteenth century reinforced an entrenched visual inclination towards things, people and events, a tendency that has always extended to literature. Yet, the relationship between photography and literary culture started at a time when scientific developments also impacted enormously on the understanding of health and disease.

In the last thirty years several academic works have studied the presence of disease (in its many manifestations) in literature (ex: D. Bevan, 1993; M. Healy, 2001; C. Lawlor, 2007), as well as the many forms of narratives about illness (ex: G. T. Couser 1997; E. Avrahami, 2007; A. Jurecic, 2012). At the same time, studies in visual culture have investigated how photography has engaged—artistically, scientifically, ethically – with sickness and ailment (S. B. Burns, 2007; C. Squiers, 2005). The ways writing and photography have encountered, clashed and collaborated in the narration of the body and its disorders, since the nineteenth century, is nevertheless a topic scarcely explored.

For this Special Issue, contributions are invited to reflect on how the relationship between photography (as aesthetics, language, material object and practice) and diverse literary genres (prosaic and poetic, non-fictional, auto/biographical and novelistic forms) respond to:

  • psychological and moral illness;
  • chronic illness;
  • mental illness;
  • disability and damaged bodies;
  • imaginary and enacted illnesses;
  • sickness as metaphor;
  • malaise and collective illness;
  • disease and fear;
  • being ill and healing in the digital age.

The Issue will supplement the burgeoning field of literature & photography studies (ex: J.M Rabb, 1995; M. Bryant 1996; T.D. Adams, 2000; A. Safford, 2010) by exploring specifically how writing and photography have communicated and interrelated in the narration and depiction of physical, moral and mental disorders from the invention of photography up to today. How do photo-textual relations corroborate specific ideological discourses related to disease and sickness? How is illness domesticated, localised, celebrated or disowned through the multifarious interrelations of the verbal and the visual?

  • Abstracts of 250 words should be submitted by 1 February 2019.
  • Final submissions to be received by 1 October 2019.

Dr. Giorgia Alù
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • literature and photography
  • photo-literary
  • photographic theory and culture
  • illness and disease
  • disability

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Introduction: Writing and Viewing Illness
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 93; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030093 - 25 Aug 2020
Abstract
Writing (prosaic, non-fictional and (auto)biographical) and photography (as aesthetics and technology, language, material object and practice) can communicate and interrelate in the narration and depiction of physical disorders. The five articles in this Special Issue explore how the body and its pain and [...] Read more.
Writing (prosaic, non-fictional and (auto)biographical) and photography (as aesthetics and technology, language, material object and practice) can communicate and interrelate in the narration and depiction of physical disorders. The five articles in this Special Issue explore how the body and its pain and disorders can be accessed in projects that either interlace words and images within themselves or that communicate and interrelate with other written or visual texts produced by others. In these photo-textual encounters (or clashes), wounded, tormented, weakened bodies are narrated and mediated, as well as marked, modified and exposed by personal and emotional choices or by ideological and socio-historical circumstances. The articles invite us to reflect on the ideological discourses, issues of power, practice, ethics and agency that any illness implicates, as well as the flexible boundaries of the written and visual language narrating such an overpowering experience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photo-Textual Disorders: Writing, Photography and Illness)

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Open AccessArticle
Temporality and the Carer’s Experience in the Narrative Ecology of Illness: Susan Sontag’s Dying in Photography and Prose
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030081 - 16 Aug 2020
Abstract
This paper joins a discussion about the representational dissonance and commemorative ethics of two self-referential works that engage with Susan Sontag’s 2004 death from Myelodysplastic Syndrome: Annie Leibovitz’s A Photographer’s Life1990–2005 (2006) and David Rieff’s Swimming in a Sea of Death: A [...] Read more.
This paper joins a discussion about the representational dissonance and commemorative ethics of two self-referential works that engage with Susan Sontag’s 2004 death from Myelodysplastic Syndrome: Annie Leibovitz’s A Photographer’s Life1990–2005 (2006) and David Rieff’s Swimming in a Sea of Death: A Son’s Memoir (2008). Instead of approaching these two texts as testimonial accounts measured by standards of reliability and grace, this paper considers how the temporal dissonance produced by an incurable cancer diagnosis thwarts questions of personhood and ethical intention in Leibovitz’s photography and Rieff ’s prose. By contextualizing these works as the caregivers’ experience of Sontag’s illness, this paper reads them as attempts at gauging two distinct temporal perspectives that confound identification—those of living through and of remembering terminal time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photo-Textual Disorders: Writing, Photography and Illness)
Open AccessArticle
Photo-Textual Relations: Emphasizing Vulnerability to Efface AIDS
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020034 - 13 Apr 2020
Abstract
This article considers the relationship between photojournalism and literature about HIV/AIDS in Romania from the late 1980s and the 1990s to examine the ways in which photo-textual relations localize and perpetuate a specific ideological understanding of the AIDS epidemic. The pictures taken by [...] Read more.
This article considers the relationship between photojournalism and literature about HIV/AIDS in Romania from the late 1980s and the 1990s to examine the ways in which photo-textual relations localize and perpetuate a specific ideological understanding of the AIDS epidemic. The pictures taken by Frank Fournier in Bucharest won the Word Press Photo’s first prize in 1990 and established the AIDS epidemic’s image in and about Romania. Using Diana Taylor’s concept of percepticide to think about what the photographs simultaneously reflect and obscure through an active training of the audience’s gaze, in tandem with Lynn Mie Itagaki’s theorization of visuality of vulnerability as a biopolitical heuristic, I examine the photographs performative erasure of AIDS alongside Rodica Mătușa’s (semi) autobiography, Nobody’s Angels. My Life Alongside Children Living with AIDS. The close-up pictures of malnourished children in a dilapidated hospital have a gritty, abrasive texture that perform a defacing function and dehumanize the central subject. The short descriptions accompanying Fournier’s work, alongside Mătușa’s book, present the images as illustrations and consequences of the Romanian communist regime’s biopolitical measures and tie the medical emergency to the communist ideology. The texts and the photographs impose a methodology of looking, of reading and seeing as evidence of Nicolae Ceaușescu’s austerity measures in the late 1980s in Romania, while the centrality of infants’ naked, malnourished bodies fabricate a causal relationship that obscures larger medical and cultural networks. I claim that image-text interrelations instrumentalize and localize the AIDS epidemic by visually emphasizing vulnerability as a direct result of communism, while dehumanizing and effacing the infants’ and children’s bodies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photo-Textual Disorders: Writing, Photography and Illness)
Open AccessArticle
Exploring Intimacy in Collaborative Photographic Narratives of Breast Cancer
Humanities 2020, 9(1), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9010027 - 18 Mar 2020
Abstract
A life-limiting illness brings about heightened awareness of mortality and reshapes close relationships. Couples must often negotiate and adjust their actions to sustain intimate bonds. Through analysis of two projects—Dorothea Lynch’s and Eugene Richards’s collaborative project Exploding into Life (1986) that documents Lynch’s [...] Read more.
A life-limiting illness brings about heightened awareness of mortality and reshapes close relationships. Couples must often negotiate and adjust their actions to sustain intimate bonds. Through analysis of two projects—Dorothea Lynch’s and Eugene Richards’s collaborative project Exploding into Life (1986) that documents Lynch’s experience living with breast cancer through photographs and text, and Angelo Merendino’s e-book The Battle we Didn’t Choose—My Wife’s Fight with Breast Cancer (2013), I explore how couples make sense of and communicate illness experience. Exploding into Life and Merendino’s project are not only explorations of Lynch’s and Jennifer’s experiences living with breast cancer; the works also question what it means to be seen through the eyes of the other. The projects share similar experiences; however, they are situated in two different historical moments. Taking Arthur Kleinman’s argument of illness experience as social and political as a starting point, I question the limits of experience and examine how the photographs and the accompanying text articulate and mediate private expressions of illness, and what motivates the participants of the photographic act to make their experiences public. The study is informed by Arthur W. Frank’s dialogical narrative analysis and some of the writings by Thomas G. Couser, Roland Barthes, and Michel Foucault. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photo-Textual Disorders: Writing, Photography and Illness)
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Open AccessArticle
Somatic Narratives about Illness. Biometric Visualization of Diseased and Disabled Bodies in Art and Science Projects
Humanities 2020, 9(1), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9010019 - 14 Feb 2020
Abstract
This article proposes investigating how the problem of chronic and deadly diseases and bodily injuries is explored in selected contemporary artistic projects based on biometric technologies and medical imaging. All of the projects that will be analysed use specific medical tools and methods [...] Read more.
This article proposes investigating how the problem of chronic and deadly diseases and bodily injuries is explored in selected contemporary artistic projects based on biometric technologies and medical imaging. All of the projects that will be analysed use specific medical tools and methods (e.g., roentgenography or bio-tracking) to provide detailed, affective images of disability and illness. Nonetheless, these projects were created as pieces of art that combine visual and verbal elements: photographs, collages, and other illustrated stories (e.g., “biometric diaries” or open-source art). On the one hand, they show the “inner” and often invisible face of illness and suffering, but on the other hand they also raise questions related to algorithmic reductionism and politicization of such forms of representation of disease. This article will focus on artistic projects created by Diane Covert, Salvatore Iaconesi and Laurie Frick. It refers to the ‘ethos of health’ and the conception of ethopolitics (Nicolas Rose) to show the place in contemporary biopolitical society of illness (Thomas Lemke), which can be seen as an exceptional form of the body’s condition. Moreover, it considers the problem of the politicization of the biological body and affective experiences (Britta Timm Knudsen and Carsten Stage) and the category of untold histories explored by Joanne Garde-Hansen and Kristyn Gorton. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photo-Textual Disorders: Writing, Photography and Illness)
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Open AccessArticle
Representation of the Self and Disease: Writing, Photography and Video in Hervé Guibert
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 181; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040181 - 03 Dec 2019
Abstract
Hervé Guibert (1955–1991), a French writer and photographer, began developing a double artistic practice in 1977. In 1988, he discovers he has HIV and his literary and photographic works begin to reflect each other in an attempt to tell the story of a [...] Read more.
Hervé Guibert (1955–1991), a French writer and photographer, began developing a double artistic practice in 1977. In 1988, he discovers he has HIV and his literary and photographic works begin to reflect each other in an attempt to tell the story of a disease whose progression proves uncontrollable and ultimately fatal. Hervé Guibert then undertakes an intensive self-examination of his body and of the changes imposed on it by the disease, using both writing and images (photography and video). At the same time, he carries out a theoretical reflection on the limits of the image and on the limits of writing, both complementing each other in an attempt to convey the experience of disease. His work thus offers a valuable ground for exploring the relationship between literature, photography and the story of disease and, most of all, the need to resort to these two modes of expression in order to communicate the intimate experience of illness. In Hervé Guibert, this experience can be understood through the tension between unveiling and exposing oneself. While the former is creative, the latter seems to be the result of the illness loss of control. This article aims to analyze this dialectical tension in light of three artistic mediums used by Guibert. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photo-Textual Disorders: Writing, Photography and Illness)
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