Writing and Illness

While much of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s work is avowedly (first-)personal, she ventured most boldly into the autobiographical in A Dialogue on Love (1999). She described her “little memoir” in 2006 as, “an attempt to trace the course of a psychotherapy that I undertook to deal with longstanding depression.” Yet her primary interest in narrating her therapy experiences was not directed towards uncovering “The Problem” causing her depression or reconstructing formative childhood events. Rather it lay in trying to render in and through writing an intersubjective space in which to reconstitute and maintain an open, desiring, resilient self-a space for both herself and her readers. Interweaving prose, poetry, and her therapist’s notes, she demonstrates how such a space can endow writers and readers with an empowering sense of “being alone but not alone” in their efforts to deal with illness, loss, and death, without being overwhelmed by their attendant anxieties and anguish. This panel will address the themes of writing, illness, and subjectivity, and panelists will base their remarks on A Dialogue on Love. We recommend Chapter 6 for those who may not have time to read the entire book.

Watch the video here:

11:00 a.m.
Suzanne O’Brien (moderator)
Ed Cohen
Michael Moon
Cindy Patton

Text: A Dialogue on Love. Boston: Beacon Press, 1999. pp. 107-131.