The "Untimely" Story of Cancer (and Its Othered Realities)

Date: 7 March 2013
Time: 5:00 - 6:30pm
Venue: Room 758, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, The University of Hong Kong

The "Untimely" Story of Cancer (and Its Othered Realities) by Vicky Yau

imageAbstract: Illness narratives in all their varieties have become a central focus of the cultural study of health and disease. They represent efforts on the part of the narrator to make sense of their suffering and they thereby promote empathic understanding of the illness experience. However, narratives in general rely on a temporal structure in which each event is located in a linear sequence, and this can limit the way illness is represented, especially in relation to a disease like cancer. The story of cancer is often flattened into some kind of personal history or reduced to a strive-to-survive story. But what about the silences and the ellipses that are embedded in these narratives, especially when they involve fear, loss, or relentless hope in the face of dying and death?    Basing on cancer’s unique aetiology and characteristics, I attempt to show the limitations of the temporal approach to capture the othered realities of cancer.  I then propose to decentre cancer from the subject matter and look at what else is there. I hope this can set forth a view of cancer as a large and amorphous phenomenon, one that challenges not only a reductive, causal narrative of cancer, but also to representation as a whole.

About the Speaker:
Vicky Yau is completing her Ph.D in the School of Cultural Inquiry, The Australian National University.  Her thesis, entitled Cancer from a Spatial Perspective: Locating the Unspeakable, Healing, and Hope, analyses the multiple experiences and events of cancer across a range of scientific and cultural texts and contexts.  She received her M.Phil and B.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong.

The event is co-sponsored with the Department of Comparative Literature and Center for the Study of Globalization and Cultures.