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Diedrich Diablog Summary


Hey Reina and everyone! It's time for a Diedrich Diablog Summary! Here I'll take a moment to recount my experience of diablogging.

I actually really enjoy the process of diablogging. I feel that although all readings should be close readings, the diablog forces me to account for my close reading in a particularly productive way. Because we had to post a summary of the reading that attempted to do justice to the complexities and nuances of the arguments of the book, I think I spent more time with the reading thinking about it and generating questions.

It was also really fun to have a discussion on the blog with you, Reina. I wish I'd had more time on Monday to respond to everything and ask more questions, but I feel the discussion was productive and really helped prepare us for class discussion. It also honed me in to different things in the readings I'd missed, or hadn't paid enough attention to, and discussing a reading with others always contributes to everyone's understanding of it, I think. Although it might have been fun to do the diablog with more people, I also liked only doing it with one other person. I think it was more challenging to explore the text with only two people and I feel it pushed me to try to know it better.

It would be really interesting in future to experiment with having a preliminary class discussions about the readings on the blog before the in-class discussion, especially for difficult material. It might help to generate questions about the text and make in-class discussions more lively.

In Diedrich's conclusion, she ends with a discussion of an ethics of the experience of failure (body, conventional/alternative medicine, and/or language) that she reads through two illness narratives. The first is Atul Gawande's Complications that focuses on the doctor side of the doctor-patient binary and the next is Gillian Rose's Love's Work, from the patient's side (148). Diedrich borrows from Lyotard and Scarry's respective works to highlight the "experience of pain" that attempt to draw out methods for "idioms which do not yet exist" (148). Diedrich also lends significant attention to Croce's "the undiscussable" (148-149) as she aims to highlight her own "undiscussable"-the possibility and reality that doctors and their patients may "get things wrong" and thus may not have a language or an ethics of getting it wrong (149). Lyotard's "differend" becomes important in Diedrich's discussion of "unstable states" where something cannot be put into language or phrases. An example of this differend, for Diedrich, is the hyphen that separates the two subject positions in the doctor-patient relationship (150).
Diedrich begins her discussion of the ethics of failure with Gawande's focus in Complications that medicine is an "imperfect science." Gawande's experiential statements assert the "fallibility, mystery, and uncertainty" (150) that surround western medicine. Simply by questioning the credibility and power of medicine, Gawande opens up the discussion to allow for failure. Pointing to the "undiscussable" and "messy" and "uncertainty" that is a reality of medicine, Diedrich calls Gawande's narrative a "differend" (151).

In chapter five of Treatments, Diedrich questions the possibilities and impossibilities of illness narratives to write and read the body. She begins by asking a series of questions about the relationship between language and embodiment within illness narratives. Diedrich asks,
"Is the experience of embodiment determined and structured by language? What is lost in the attempt--the urgency even--to bring the body to language? Can we encounter the body outside of or prior to language? Can we tell stories and bear witness, not only about the body but also through the body?" (115)
The chapter centers on the "telling and listening" and "language memoirs" in Paul Monette's autobiographical accounts on HIV/AIDS and the mourning of his partner Roger Horowitz as well as John Bayley's writings on his wife, Iris Murdoch's, journey with Alzheimer's disease. These narratives offer a critical engagement with language(s) and embodiment.


Here's a reminder about the diablog assignment:

Diablog (dialogue + blog = diablog) 200 points
You and one other class member are required to engage in an online dialogue via our blog and twitter. You will sign up to discuss one of the course readings. Over the course of one week you will each post summaries of the reading and then post comments, follow-up entries and/or tweet responses to each other. Then you will be responsible for our class discussion. Finally, you will post a collaborative summary of your diablog. Here's a breakdown of point totals for this assignment:

  • Initial summary blog entry = 40 points
  • Follow up posts = 60 points earned through combination of entries (@20 pts), comments (@10 pts) and tweets (@ 5 pts) [example: 1 entry + 3 comments + 2 tweets]
  • Class presentation/discussion = 50 points
  • Collective summary = 50 points
I will distribute a sign-up sheet in class on Tuesday. Diablogs will begin the week of feb 15th.