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"I remember when a diagnosis was a death sentence" : l'écriture du SIDA et de la mort dans la littérature gay. David Feinberg, Tony Kushner et Armistead Maupin.

Abstract : This dissertation explores the way AIDS and death are treated in American gay literature, with a focus on works by David Feinberg, Tony Kushner and Armistead Maupin. At a crossroads where a theme (AIDS) meets a type of literature (gay literature, which pre-existed the epidemic), this dissertation takes into account the many dimensions of the HIV/AIDS epidemic: aiming at anthropological knowledge through literature (Laplantine), moving “beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries” (Campbell & Kean), it shows that, when it comes to AIDS, history probably missed the boat, but literature did not. The media, the government officials, the health authorities and the general population never took the full measure of the HIV/AIDS crisis; gay authors, by contrast, fully confronted the epidemic, while HIV was taking hold in their bodies, and produced works that deserve to be read and examined, notably because, three decades after the first cases, the HIV/AIDS epidemic still is not under control. Based on an examination of works by the three authors, that constitute a sample both in generic terms (autobiography/autofiction, novel, drama) and in terms of reception, it shows that the gay literature of AIDS is, at most, a crack or a slit, not a breakaway from the literatures that came before. As a result of this anachronistic epidemic (it appeared at a time when Man seemed to be able to believe that epidemics were a thing of the past), the body wounded by AIDS takes center stage in their lives and in their works. The dying body becomes a topos, a place of exploration and the motif that structures the text. The three authors take a somewhat surprising stance: they make an extensive use of humor—this dissertation shows that such a stance is far more than mere defense: it is part of a process of identity construction through language. The gay literature of AIDS testifies to the creation of new death rituals, as well as a new language that aims at making sure that the memory of all those young men killed by AIDS remains alive. Writing until his very last breath, Feinberg (1956-1994) gives new meaning to the “death of the author.”
Keywords : Body Humor Gay Disease Death
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/tel-01097773
Contributor : Christelle Klein-Scholz <>
Submitted on : Monday, December 22, 2014 - 9:17:22 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, March 5, 2020 - 6:59:12 PM
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Christelle Klein-Scholz. "I remember when a diagnosis was a death sentence" : l'écriture du SIDA et de la mort dans la littérature gay. David Feinberg, Tony Kushner et Armistead Maupin.. Littératures. Aix-Marseille Université, 2014. Français. ⟨tel-01097773⟩

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