Cancertainment: How Comics and the Internet are Changing the Face of Cancer
Traditionally, individuals diagnosed with cancer feel stigmatized, victimized and often hopeless -- the very word "cancer" symbolizes a pernicious attack on the body that leads individuals with the disease to succumb to despair, or to play the role of hero or survivor. Rather than remaining silent in the face of this kind of trauma, the ill person who translates her experience into narrative empowers herself by claiming ownership over her story. Recently, the Internet and its complementary new technologies have paved the way for new kinds of expression about cancer for the cancer patient community, enabling individuals with cancer to reinterpret their diagnosis and reclaim authority both over their illness and the medical system. In particular, cancer patients now use the Internet as a safe place to share humor and other forms of entertainment in order to cope with their illness through a number of channels including web comics, blogs, message boards, games and web sites. This project investigates how the Internet and other new technologies enable individuals to use humor and other kinds of "cancertainment" to reclaim authority over their illness, refigure their relationship to those with cancer and those without, and reimagine how society should make meaning from cancer as a disease and as a social and personal experience.
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