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In: Babylon or New Jerusalem?

The blue chair is where the father of the protagonist siblings in Jonathan Franzén’s novel Corrections ends his life; a comfortable, restful and utterly ugly chair, the only piece of furniture of his own acquisition in an up-marked American suburban home; and the last confine of a mishap existence that has lost its directions through forced retirement and soon escapes into precocious dementia. From having been a marginal and rather inconspicuous disease, dementia, especially in the guise of Alzheimer’s disease, has become one of the major challenges to health-care in the industrialised world during the last 20 years or so. This article examines some of the ways in which the rapidly increasing number of patients with the diagnosis of dementia is reflected and negotiated in contemporary American fiction. Through a reading of three novels, Amy Tan’s The Bonesetters Daughter, Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke and Franzén’s The Corrections, all published in 2001, it is discussed how the phenomenon of dementia highlights and expresses some more general features in contemporary culture, especially the changing role of cultural memory in a uniformed culture of consumption, the blurring boundaries between the real and the imaginary in a mediatised society, and the transformation of generational authority in a culture where youthfulness is idealised. On the basis of these readings, it is argued that the role of literature in relation to the disease of dementia can be seen not only as a phenomenological first-person approach to the experience of patients and relatives, but also as a diagnosis of some cultural predicaments supporting the spread of the clinical syndrome, and not least some strategies for coping with the disease in this expanded cultural context.

In: Illness in Context
In: The Beauty of Theory
In: Socioaesthetics

Based on the preceding, this chapter situates the question of legibility in a wider context of the challenges and opportunities facing cultural analysis today. The first part of the essay traces some central motifs in cultural analysis back to German and French critical theory and discusses the fundamental approaches to the question of legibility that can be found here. After a brief discussion of how the present development in mediation and media technology impacts on the relation between what is legible and what is not, it is suggested to revisit the notion of representation. Representation today, so Tygstrup argues, radically conflates the forms, concerns and affects involved in cultural agency, which eventually is developed through a discussion of the preceding contributions.…

In: Legibility in the Age of Signs and Machines
Aesthetics is no longer the preserve of art historians and philosophers of art. Changes in society, culture, economy, urban dynamics and everyday life, push us towards considering the aesthetic components of traditionally non-aesthetic domains. Today it is not only legitimate but necessary to query the relationship between the social as a cohesive and encompassing form of community and human institutions and the aesthetic, that is the sensual, sensory, or, perhaps better, the sensible. Increasingly the social seems to emerge from the sensible and sentient meaning of objects. The volume SocioAesthetics: Ambience – Imaginary collects scholars from social science, aesthetics, arts, and cultural studies in case-driven debate, ranging from biometrics to luxury commodities, on how a new alignment of aesthetics and the social is possible and what the possible prospects of this may be.
In: Socioaesthetics
In: Socioaesthetics
In: Socioaesthetics
This book is a contribution to humanistic studies of illness. Medical humanities are by nature cross-disciplinary, and in recent years studies in this field have been recognized as a platform for dialogue between the “two cultures” of the natural sciences and the humanities. Illness in Context is a result of an encounter of several disciplines, including medicine, history and literature. The main stress is on the literary perspectives of the interdisciplinary collaboration. The reading practices highlighting the clinical, phenomenological and archeological approaches to illness take as their point of departure the living text, that is, the literary experience mediated and created by the text. Literature is seen not solely as a medium for the representation of experiences of illness, but also as a historical praxis involved in the forging of our common understanding of illness. In contrast to traditional literary analysis – primarily oriented toward the interpretation of the literary work’s meaning – the project will emphasize description and understanding of how literature itself performs as a means of interpretation of reality. The target group for this book comprises professionals in the various disciplines, and students of health and culture. The ambition is to contribute to teaching in humanistic illness research, and function as a topical resource book that formulates controversial problems in the crucial meeting of medicine and the humanities.