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Imag(in)ing the cancerous body: representations of cancer in medical discourse and contemporary visual art

  • Author / Creator
    Kowalski, Sara
  • This thesis examines representations of cancer in contemporary art, with a particular focus on unruly, un-idealized bodies at risk. In bringing together the discourses of art history and medicine, its aim is to engage conventions of visualizing cancer, and more importantly, to highlight the ways in which contemporary artists challenge dominant representations, re-imagining the cancerous body from an embodied perspective. Chapter One provides a context for images of cancer by examining an artistic account of how medicine constructs the body against an artist’s representation of her own cancerous body. Theorizing cancer as an abject condition, Chapter Two examines representational strategies for visualizing cancer that trouble distinctions between inside/outside, self/other, subject/object, healthy/diseased. Building on themes of gender, health, and identity, Chapter Three considers representations of chemotherapy-induced hair loss and baldness as the most visible signs of cancer, but highly unstable and performative ones that call the representational status of the disease into question.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2010-11
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3DM0S
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Master's
  • Department
    • Department of Art and Design
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Lianne McTavish (Department of Art and Design)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Amanda Boetzkes (Department of Art and Design)
    • Robert Smith (Department of History and Classics)