Stories of cancer are full of monster and marvels; the monstrousness of the disease and the treatments, the marvels of the cures and the saved lives. Still one of the most dreaded diseases to haunt our imaginations, cancer is more than an illness - it is a cultural phenomenon. People who have cancer are bombarded with competing explanations of their conditions: it is genetically inherited; it is environmentally produced; it is the result of their personality. Teratologies - A Cultural Study of Cancer investigates how this disease is perceived, experienced and theorised in contemporary society. It explores changing beliefs about the causes of, and the cures for, cancer in both biomedicine and its increasingly popular alternative counterparts.
Analysing conventional and alternative medical accounts, self-help manuals and patients' personal stories, Jackie Stacey takes a critical look at the place of heroes, metaphors, the self and the body in these competing bids to produce the authoritative definition of the meaning of cancer today. Interspersed with these detailed textual investigations are discussions of broader issues such as the feminist debates about the history of science, the place of consumer culture in health practices and the status of patients and of health professionals in postmodern society.
Combining authobiographical narratives with contemporary theoretical debates, the author carves out a specifically feminist analysis of the cultural dimensions of cancer. She brings accounts of her own illness under the critical lens of academic scrutiny and situates these personal stories within a discussion of contemporary cultural change.