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My Body, My World: Illness and Identity in Alice Walker’s "Beauty: When the Other Dancer is the Self"

Abstract

Writing Center faculty at the Medical University of South Carolina teach humanities courses in which we include literary texts that are not ostensibly “about health care” to introduce to students how unique an illness narrative can be—to challenge, in fact, preconceived notions student may have about what “counts” as a healthcare narrative. One narrative we teach is Alice Walker’s “Beauty: When the Other Dancer is the Self." Walker’s account provides opportunities to examine how injury and illness can affect one over the course of a lifetime, contributing to the formation and constant renegotiation of identity from childhood to adulthood. This paper describes the method by which we have taught Walker’s story to engage students on these topics.

 

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