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Accounts of Self: Exploring Relationality Through Literature 

Accounts of Self: Exploring Relationality Through Literature
Accounts of Self: Exploring Relationality Through Literature

Maura Spiegel

and Danielle Spencer

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date: 22 January 2022

Literature offers the opportunity to study relationality in many different forms and contexts. This chapter discusses relationality in creative works—Colm Toíbín’s “One Minus One”, Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go—in combination with selected criticism and theory, exemplifying one approach to the narrative medicine classroom. In these texts characters offer an account of self in contrasting ways—from the vexed, distrustful address of Dostoevsky’s Underground Man to the richly inviting tapestry of Bechdel’s graphic memoir—provoking different readerly experiences. Critical perspectives such as Bakhtin’s analysis of the dialogic nature of the Underground Man’s apparent soliloquy, Rita Felski’s conception of readerly recognition, Michael White’s description of Narrative Therapy, and Judith Butler’s discussion of the ethics of giving an account of self—all enrich our experience of these works and deepen our understanding of relationality, particularly as it relates to clinical practice.

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