The Social, Aesthetic, and Medical Implications of Performing Shame : Interdisciplinary Approaches book cover
1st Edition

The Social, Aesthetic, and Medical Implications of Performing Shame
Interdisciplinary Approaches

  • Available for pre-order on May 3, 2023. Item will ship after May 24, 2023
ISBN 9781032205540
May 24, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
240 Pages 21 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Performing Shame shows how simulations of shame by North American writers and artists have the power to resist its withering influence.

Chapter One analyzes the projects’ key terms: shame, performance, and empathy. Chapter Two probes the book’s key terms in light of a real-world study of an "empathy device" that aims to teach the public what it feels like to be disabled. Chapter Three analyzes how theatre intervenes in the practice of medicine via standardized patient actors who engage in role play to enhance medical students’ empathy for patients coping with shame. Chapter Four moves from the clinic to the street to examine how The Raging Grannies’ public performances contest ageist constructions of older women’s bodies and desires. Chapter Five shifts further from the bedside to the book by exploring Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home, which challenges the shame projected onto homosexuals. Bringing the study full circle, the final chapter offers close readings of the stories of Alice Munro; like empathy devices, her texts restage scenes of shame to undo its malevolent spell.

This book will be of interest to scholars in theatre and performance studies, health humanities, gender studies, queer studies, literary studies, disability studies, and affect studies.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents



Performing Shame: A Brief Introduction

Chapter 1 – Keywords: Shame, Performance, and Empathy

Chapter 2 – Empathy Devices

Chapter 3 – Medicine’s Hidden Curriculum and the Use of Standardized Patients to Reduce Shame and Foster Empathy

Chapter 4 – Contesting Sexism and Ageism through Political Activism: The Raging Grannies

Chapter 5 – Withdrawing Shame: Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home

Chapter 6 – Alice Munro’s Performative Fictions: Challenging (Dis)Ability

Conclusion: "Embrace the Gap"

Works Cited


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Marlene Goldman is a Professor in the Department of English at the University of Toronto and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. She specializes in Canadian literature, age studies, and medical humanities. Her recent book, Forgotten: Age- Related Dementia and Alzheimer’s in Canadian Literature explores narrative and pathological modes of forgetting associated with trauma, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease (McGill-Queen’s Press, 2017). Her latest book The Social, Aesthetic, and Medical Implications of Performing Shame: Interdisciplinary Approaches is forthcoming from Routledge in 2023. Goldman is also the author of Paths of Desire (University of Toronto Press, 1997), Rewriting Apocalypse (McGill-Queen’s Press, 2005), and (Dis)Possession (McGill-Queen’s Press 2011). Goldman has also written, directed, and produced three short films. The first, about dementia entitled Piano Lessons, is based on Alice Munro’s short story "In Sight of the Lake" from her collection Dear Life (2004). Her second film Torching the Dusties, adapted from Margaret Atwood’s story of the same name, addresses aging and intergenerational warfare. Her most recent film Mani Pedi, based on the eponymous story by Souvankham Thammavongsa, is currently on the film festival circuit.