How to Have Theory in an Epidemic: Cultural Chronicles of AIDS / Edition 1

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Overview


Paula A. Treichler has become a singularly important voice among the significant theorists on the AIDS crisis. Dissecting the cultural politics surrounding representations of HIV and AIDS, her work has altered the field of cultural studies by establishing medicine as a legitimate focus for cultural analysis. How to Have Theory in an Epidemic is a comprehensive collection of Treichler’s related writings, including revised and updated essays from the 1980s and 1990s that present a sustained argument about the AIDS epidemic from a uniquely knowledgeable and interdisciplinary standpoint.
“AIDS is more than an epidemic disease,” Treichler writes, “it is an epidemic of meanings.” Exploring how such meanings originate, proliferate, and take hold, her essays investigate how certain interpretations of the epidemic dominate while others are obscured. They also suggest ways to understand and choose between overlapping or competing discourses. In her coverage of roughly fifteen years of the AIDS epidemic, Treichler addresses a range of key issues, from biomedical discourse and theories of pathogenesis to the mainstream media’s depictions of the crisis in both developed and developing countries. She also examines representations of women and AIDS, treatment issues, and the role of activism in shaping the politics of the epidemic. Linking the AIDS tragedy to a uniquely broad spectrum of contemporary theory and culture, this collection concludes with an essay on the continued importance of theoretical thought for untangling the sociocultural phenomena of AIDS—and for tackling the disease itself.
With an exhaustive bibliography of critical and theoretical writings on HIV and AIDS, this long-awaited volume will be essential to all those invested in studying the course of AIDS, its devastating medical effects, and its massive impact on contemporary culture. It should become a standard text in university courses dealing with AIDS in biomedicine, sociology, anthropology, gay and lesbian studies, women’s studies, and cultural and media studies.


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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Looking backward and ahead, How to Have Theory in an Epidemic is nothing short of a handbook of the meanings of AIDS: as human experience, as political reality, as public service action, and, not least of all, as moral engagement with one of the great challenges to meaning-making and unmaking in everyday life.”—Dr. Arthur Kleinman, Harvard University

“Paula Treichler’s essays are certainly among the most significant written on the subject of AIDS. They are, in fact, a model of what the field of cultural studies at its best can contribute to our thinking about urgent social and political issues. This is an essential book, one that will strongly affect the way people approach the subject of AIDS in the future.”—Douglas Crimp, author of AIDS: Demo Graphics

Choice Magazine
Treichler's primary arguments are that the AIDS epidemic is cultural and linguistic as well as biological and biomedical. . . . [A] series of case studies that document the epidemic, read its texts with some attention to contemporary theory, and explore what theory does or does not do in this epidemic.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822323181
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books
  • Publication date: 7/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Paula A. Treichler is a professor at the University of Illinois, where she holds positions in the College of Medicine, the Institute of Communications Research, and the Women’s Studies Program. Her writings on AIDS have appeared in such journals as Science, ArtForum, October, Transition, and Camera Obscura. She is the coauthor of Language, Gender, and Professional Writing and A Feminist Dictionary and the coeditor of For Alma Mater,Cultural Studies , and The Visible Woman.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
A Note on the Text
Prologue 1
1 AIDS, Homophobia, and Biomedical Discourse: An Epidemic of Signification 11
2 The Burdens of History: Gender and Representation in AIDS Discourse, 1981-1988 42
3 AIDS and HIV Infection in the Third World: A First World Chronicle 99
4 Seduced and Terrorized: AIDS in the Media 127
5 AIDS, HIV and the Cultural Construction of Reality 149
6 AIDS Narratives on Television: Whose Story? 176
7 AIDS, Africa, and Cultural Theory 205
8 Beyond Cosmo: AIDS, Identity, and Inscriptions of Gender 235
9 How to Have Theory in an Epidemic: The Evolution of AIDS, Treatment, and Activism 278
Epilogue 315
Notes 331
Bibliography 387
Index 453
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