Publication details [#7660]

Marshall, April D. 2003. Somatically speaking: The rhetoric of disease metaphors and Latin American literature. New York. 150 pp.
Publication type
Ph.D dissertation
Publication language


The purpose of this study is to explore the intersection of literature and illness in order to demonstrate that the disease metaphor is an effective trope for Latin American authors seeking to represent topics that have been culturally and historically pathologized in both national society and/or literature. It analyzes the way the rhetoric of the somatic (or pathological) was used at the end of the 19th century. It also traces the development of this rhetoric into the following century. The dissertation begins with an overview of general literary theory dealing with disease and representation focusing on Susan Sontag, Julia Epstein and Sander Gilman. It offers a linguistic perspective on the functioning of metaphor as well. By bringing the ideas of medical historian, Charles Rosenberg, to bear on this linguistic discussion the author defines the notion of the frame and framing. Frames can be understood as parallel to the concept of the artist's convention - constructs that inform the perception of disease as both a biological event and a social occurrence. Tuberculosis, cholera, and sexually transmitted diseases (AIDS in particular) are the illnesses central to this study. The Latin American writers: Abraham Valdelomar, Manuel Puig, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Reinaldo Arenas employ metaphors with these diseases in order to engage specific socio-historic material via frames. Each of the three chapters concentrates on a theme that has come to serve as the basis for framing the various diseases - (homo)sexuality, gender, modernization, totalitarianism and plague. These same themes have also been recognized by various literary critics as essential to thinking and problematizing the construction of Latin American identity. (LLBA, Accession Number 200500675, (c) CSA [2004]. All rights reserved)