A ‘Flinders Life Narrative Research Group’ event.
Affective Illness Economies:
Marchetto’s Cancer Vixen and Ann Tenna
Tuesday 10th April - 11am-12pm
LCWM 0.03 Moot Court, Flinders University.
"In Marisa Acocella Marchetto’s graphic memoir Cancer Vixen, protagonist Marisa fights breast cancer through vanity. Interestingly, in her second graphic narrative Ann Tenna, a sci fi tale about a fashion gossip blogger, eponymous Ann battles vanity by way of illness. In the first, the impact of cancer on New York fashion-conscious cartoonist Marisa adheres to what Gayle A. Sulik calls “pink ribbon ideology”—or upbeat survivorship—in which a negative diagnosis, followed by successful radiation and chemotherapy, affirms a successful “battle” against cancer. Overcoming cancer, a “bad thing,” is ultimately deemed a triumph. But for all the “good” of that triumph—is it a medical victory or a personal one?—negativity is re-appropriated in Marchetto’s cancer economy, as exhibited by the autographic protagonist Marisa’s judgmental attitude. Using Sara Ahmed’s The Cultural Politics of Emotion, I will discuss how emotions are economies that circulate between bodies, creating affective values. Cancer, for example, has emotion, not in the sense that a cancer cell or cancerous tumor “feels,” but that it produces affect in a distribution system of popular sentiments about cancer. Cancer does not “possess” emotion; it circulates it. In Cancer Vixen, Marisa’s narrative of overcoming “bad” cancer reveals what she might consider actually “bad” or rather, what is beneath her dignity: the poor, the uninsured, the sick, the fat, and the unattractive (in her estimation). While Ann of Ann Tenna also is a fashionista, maintaining her mean-spirited gossip blog Eyemauler, she ultimately is punished for her vanity, brought low through illness. In this tale, a higher (super) power puts her in her (lower) place, but permits her the chance to radically re-make herself in a better image, with a more positive attitude. Marchetto’s imaging of such emotions contributes to how society creates and resists narratives of illness."
Monica Chiu is Professor of English at the University of New Hampshire, specializing in Asian American studies, with a current focus on Asian/American graphic narratives and manga. Her monographs include Filthy Fictions: Asian American Literature by Women (Alta Mira, 2004) and Scrutinized! Surveillance in Asian North American Literature (University of Hawai'i Press, 2014). As well as the edited collection, Drawing New Color Lines: Transnational Asian American Graphic Narratives (Hong Kong University Press, 2015). She is a former Fulbright Scholar, teaching at The University of Hong Kong (2011-12).