AIDS Narratives: Gender and Sexuality, Fiction and Science

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Taylor & Francis, 1996 - Literary Criticism - 404 pages
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This is the first book-length study of the rich fiction that has emerged from the AIDS crisis. Examining first the ways in which scientific discourse on AIDS has reflected ideologies of gender and sexuality-such as the construction of AIDS as a disease of gay men, part of a battle over masculinity, and thus largely excluding women with AIDS from public attention-the book considers how such discourses have shaped narrative understandings of AIDS. On the one hand, AIDS is seen as an invariably fatal weakening of an individual's bodily defenses, a depiction often used to reconfirm an identification between disease and a weak and vulnerable gayness. On the other hand, AIDS is understood in terms of an epidemic attributable to gay "immorality" or "unnaturalness." The fiction of AIDS depends upon these two narratives, with one major subgenre of AIDS novel presenting narratives of personal illness, decline, and death, and a second focusing on epidemic "spread." These novels also question the narrative structures upon which they depend, intervening particularly against the homophobia of those structures, though also sometimes reinforcing it.

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