CHHS + English Department Research Seminar (online) – Dr Maria Vaccerella

On December 2nd we were joined by CHHS Steering Group member, Dr Maria Vaccarella, who discussed ‘Illness as Fiction’.

Vaccarella noted that amidst the rise of fake news and Internet hoaxes, bogus illness accounts are particularly troubling, given their potential to undermine the benefits of online peer-support communities, to erode trust in expert medical knowledge, and to promote ineffective, if not lethal, alternative therapies.

In this talk, Vaccarella presented her project “Illness as Fiction: Textual Afflictions in Print and Online”, which investigates the narrative construction of fake patient identities both in book form and on social media. With the help of illness narratives scholarship, Vaccarella questioned whether these texts constitute an extreme form of pathographical writing and she illustrated what they can teach us about the relationship between autobiography and fiction.

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