▶︎ CANCELED: Literary Dimensions Seminar
Title: Fecal Matters: Narrative, Interdependency, and Distributed Care
Abstract: Although care is the most necessary of human relations, and the obligation to care for the vulnerable is central to nearly all definitions of a just world, we live in a state of denial that equates human value with independence and productivity. This talk considers how narrative illuminates problems with our current systems of care, why we fear and shun dependency, and how we devalue the work of caregiving. More hopefully, it studies the "art" of interdependency—the ingenuity and resourcefulness of dependent persons and their caregivers—and challenges the panicky rhetoric of crisis evoked by the growth of elderly and disabled populations. It will focus on a series of narratives that feature episodes of fecal incontinence, which turn the most private, universal and mundane of bodily activities public. It takes these incidents, and the ambiance of shame, disgust, and crisis they trigger, as an occasion to explore contradictory impulses around interdependency and care.