Welcome to the ‘Broken narratives and the lived body’ conference

18th to 20th April 2016, Monash University Prato Centre, Italy

Narrative puts the emphasis on the formative and constructive power of language and communication. When people become ill, the narrative structure and stability of their life stories are disrupted. This has been described as a ‘broken narrative’. Whether this is in the context of the early presentation of a critical or a new illness, or a change in a long-lasting illness, there is always disruption: the personal narrative, as it has been projected into the future, is shattered. Mostly, an essential purpose of illness narratives is to incorporate illness into the greater framework of life, so illness requests the construction of a new (life) story. Illness represents a break not just with a particular form of representation but with the possibility of representation at all. Illness is a powerful way of reminding us about human bodily nature. Exploring different embodied experiences of illness is possible only by paying attention to how illness stories are told and performed – as ‘situated practices’ – in particular, their social and cultural contexts, and in their relation to pathologies of the body.

This conference will take an interdisciplinary approach to ‘broken narratives’, embodiment and the ‘lived body’. Contributions are invited from researchers in the social sciences, humanities, and in medicine. Contributors are invited to examine the topics outlined below, through theoretical, theoretically informed empirical research, and in relation (but not limited) to a range of psychiatric diagnoses, neurological illnesses and cognitive ‘impairments’; persons who are neurodiverse (e.g. who live with autism); psychological traumas; and life-threatening illnesses.

  • the ways in which illness experiences challenge the traditional forms of plot-oriented narrativity; how do the fragmented, discontinuous elements of illness experience revalue the notions of plot, causality, progression, time and space in narrative;
  • when illness limits the power of narrative representation;
  • intersubjectivity and broken narratives;
  • how sense is made/stories are told/ expressed/ have emerged and been employed in broken narratives in the narrators’ attempts to rewrite their life stories as survival and beyond;
  • the multiple tentative accounts that coexist and compete in broken narratives;
  • emotionality/ affect in broken narratives;
  • emancipatory movements and alternative narratives; recapturing silence and the silenced;
  • the lived body in illness stories.

Keynote Speakers: Lars-Christer Hydén, Lisa Blackman, Damien Ridge

Conference related inquiries:
Renata Kokanović (renata.kokanovic@monash.edu)

Conference Registration

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