The Cult of the Invalid: Industrial Underpinnings

Sneha Mantri // In the first part of this three part essay, I examined the Enlightenment origins of “nervous illness” as a reaction to the development of rationalist scientific development. “Nerves” and neurasthenia challenged medicine’s increasingly mechanistic view of the body, and of illness as the breakdown of the body’s machinery. In this section, I…

The Cult of the Invalid: Early Modern Origins

Sneha Mantri // Between the late seventeenth century and the early nineteenth century, Europe canonized a new scientific order, based on experimentation and logic rather than the empiricism and introspection that characterized traditional analytical thought since Aristotle. This dramatic paradigm shift, now well established as the scientific method, led to astonishing leaps of knowledge. For…

Embodied Post-colonialism — Part II

Sneha Mantri // In Part 1 of this essay on embodiment and postcolonial theory in VS Naipaul’s The Mimic Men, I looked at the protagonist Ralph’s relationship with his own body, which he progressively erases as the novel wears on. Here, I want to flip the lens outward and examine Ralph’s gaze on the female…

Embodied Post-colonialism — Part 1

Sneha Mantri // If you pick up your favorite world literature anthology and turn to the table of contents, you’ll notice immediately that the authors are categorized with startling precision. “Here,” the editors seem to say, “are the British writers, and in this corner we have the Africans—an entire continent’s worth! — and we’ve also…

Time, Perspective, and Minta’s Brooch

Sneha Mantri Narrative medicine is a critical and practical approach to medical humanities grounded in the close reading of creative works, and by extension, the clinical encounter. As a physician trained in narrative medicine, I am frequently asked by colleagues whether the chosen texts must be medical. The answer, of course, is that they need…

Heureusement

Sneha Mantri // In April 2009, France Alzheimer, a national organization created to “soutenir les malades et leur famille” (“support patients and their families”) released an advertisement entitled “Heureusement” (“Fortunately”).  The commercial, developed by the advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi Paris, stirred up a minor controversy in France due to its bleak and unrelenting portrayal…

Can Art Save? Liberal Humanism, Empathy, and the “Use” of Creativity — Part III

Sneha Mantri // This is the last in a 3-part series examining the “usefulness” of creativity through the lens of Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2005 novel Never Let Me Go. Part 1 contextualized the students’ art as a manifestation of Romantic tropes; Part 2  took on the climactic, Gothic confrontation between the students and their former headmistress. This final section…

Can Art Save? Liberal Humanism, Empathy, and the “Use” of Creativity

Sneha Mantri // This is the first in a three-part series examining the “usefulness” of creativity through the lens of Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2005 novel Never Let Me Go. Watch for Parts II and III later this spring. In Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro constructs a chilling alter world, in which individuals are cloned to…

The Unknowable Other: Intersubjectivity in Alias Grace

Sneha Mantri The facts are sparse. Grace Marks was born in Ireland around 1828, emigrated to Canada in 1840 with her family, and by 1843, aged barely fifteen, was sentenced to death for the murder of her employer Thomas Kinnear. Her story was sensationalized in the newspaper-tabloids of the day, then promptly forgotten. More than…