Biomedical discourse and the discourse of the lifeworld in contemporary New Zealand poetry on a medical theme : a thesis submitted to Massey University, Albany, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in English

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The critical component of this thesis investigates autobiographical medical poetry written from the perspective of doctor, patient and parent in the context of a growing global interest in the relationship between medicine and poetry, and in the medical humanities. Its focus is the poets’ use of medical discourse and the discourse of the personal, social world, and the ways in which their poems often echo the work of sociologists, revealing an inequity in doctor-patient relationships. The research also reveals a bias among some reviewers towards the poetry of doctors, and a contrasting tendency to accuse the patient-poets of solipsism, or the inability to go beyond self-referential anecdote. In response to such reviews, the critical component analyses the ways in which the poems have been carefully crafted, with attention to the blending or juxtaposition of biomedical and lifeworld discourses to a polemical end, moving the personal to the universal, and calling for more individualised patient care. In this way, the poetry of all three groups is found to be reflective of the contemporary socio-cultural backdrop of narrative medicine and medical humanities programmes around the world. The creative component, a book-length manuscript of poems called “Family History,” explores the relationship between biomedical and lifeworld discourses in the light of the study undertaken in the critical component and also in response to the personal medical experience of the author and her family.
Listed in 2015 Dean's List of Exceptional Theses
Medicine in literature, Biomedical discourse, New Zealand poetry, History and criticism, Medicine, Poetry, Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION::Aesthetic subjects::Literature, Dean's List of Exceptional Theses