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Disease and Identity: AIDS, Mourning and Performance in Paul Monette's Love Alone

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In 1988, Paul Monette (1945-1995), an American screenwriter and poet, published Love Alone: 18 Elegies for Rog. A collection of poems written during the five months after his lover Roger Horwitz died of AIDS , these long, unpunctuated elegies bring together images of bronchoscopies, blood exams, bodies, heroes, and war; but Monette meant for them to be a transcript of his love that would inspire anyone infected with, or affected by, AIDS . In this talk, I explore the way in which Monette’s poetry illustrates and complements theoretic accounts on the difficulties of conceptualizing and representing AIDS . I bring together recent theories about the role of mourning in the AIDS pandemic, the (de)construction of queer identities, and postmodern representations of the diseased body to study Monette’s literary selves. Furthermore, I demonstrate how theories of the body, mourning, and performance developed in the 1980’s provide a useful framework in which contemporary theorists can make sense of a patient’s perception of AIDS and its medications.

Bio: Gerardo Con Diaz is an MPhil student in History and Philosophy of Science and a member of Trinity College. An alumn of the Mathematics Department at Harvard University and a Harvard-Cambridge Scholar, Gerardo received several awards for his lecturing and speaking during his undergraduate career. A former motivational speaker for the Costa Rican Office of Education, Gerardo is writing an MPhil dissertation on theories of AIDS and the body in the United States in the early nineties.

This talk is part of the Pembroke Papers, Pembroke College series.

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