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Illness as Many Narratives"Arts, Medicine and Culture"$
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Stella Bolaki

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474402422

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474402422.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 05 July 2022

Artists’ Books in the Medical Community

Artists’ Books in the Medical Community

(p.51) Chapter 2 Artists’ Books in the Medical Community
Illness as Many Narratives

Stella Bolaki

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter focuses on a medium that is rarely discussed in relation to the medical humanities by examining the artists’ books of American artist and cancer patient Martha A. Hall. Hall created her books in response to her initial diagnosis of breast cancer in 1989 and the effects of later recurrences until her death in 2003. While art historians and book critics typically describe the handling of artists’ books in terms of a powerful aesthetic experience that emphasises the sensuous pleasures of the book, this chapter shows how the interactive form and content of Hall’s books place a more radical set of demands upon readers. The analysis particularly concentrates on the complex nature of touching and the ethics of responsibility that it generates. It also considers the challenges Hall’s work poses to mainstream breast cancer and the provocations of her artists’ books for medical communities, to whom she attached special importance. The chapter concludes by showing how her work, and artists’ books more broadly, can create spaces for unpredictable and unfinished encounters that can reinvigorate models of empathy in medical education.

Keywords:   Martha A. Hall, artists’ books and medicine, ethics of touch, empathy and medicine, artists’ books and illness narrative, interactive form of artists’ books

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