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Johanna Emeney

Doctor of Philosophy, (English)
Study Completed: 2015
College of Humanities & Social Sciences


Thesis Title
Biomedical Discourse and the Discourse of the Lifeworld in Contemporary New Zealand Poetry on a Medical Theme

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

Miss Emeney investigated autobiographical medical poetry written from the perspective of doctor, patient and parent in the context of a growing global interest in the relationship between medicine and poetry, and in the medical humanities. Her focus was the poets’ use of medical discourse and the discourse of the personal, social world, two languages whose contrasts within the poems often echoed the work of contemporary sociologists, pointing to an inequity in doctor-patient relations.  Her research also showed a bias in reviewers towards the poetry of doctors. Their tendency was to accuse the patient-poets of solipsism, or the inability to go beyond self-referential anecdote. She analysed the ways in which the poems were carefully crafted, with attention to the blending or juxtaposition of biomedical and lifeworld discourses to a polemical end, moving the personal to the universal, and calling for more individualised patient care. In this way, the poetry of all three groups was found to be reflective of the socio-cultural backdrop of rising narrative medicine and medical humanities programmes around the world.  

Professor Bryan Walpert
Dr Jack Ross