Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in English

Department

English

First Advisor

Jean Walton

Abstract

In my dissertation I examine the representation of self-creation through anorexia and bulimia in memoiristic narratives, blogs, and YouTube videos in contemporary American culture. I argue that the highly crafted characterizations and structures of the anorexic and bulimic memoirs and blogs implement the disorders into temporary tools of self-care that grant the subjects agency through their pursuits of maturation and identity creation and cannot be simplified into mere warnings and retellings of the dangers of the eating disorders. I am locating my research in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century to encompass the emergence of eating disorder memoirs, Ana and Mia blogs, and My Anorexia and Bulimia YouTube videos in American culture. With its focus on literary, visual, and formal conventions this Humanities-based approach to self-representation and disordered eating adds to and distinguishes itself from the work of psychologists and physicians who conduct scientific and medical studies on disordered eating in clinical studies. In this study I begin with an exploration of the role of confession, branding, subjection, and shame in YouTube’s My Eating Disorder Story videos. These videos differ from the memoirs and blogs that chronicle the creation of a self and care of the self through anorexia and bulimia. I then investigate Wasted and the author Marya Hornbacher’s creation of self through the culture of disordered eating and memoir writing. The third chapter outlines how bloggers use the hupomnemata medium of blogging and disordered eating in order to understand the self and better the self. I conclude with an examination of Dana Shavin’s memoir The Body Tourist and her narrative of truth telling and recovery. Through the dissertation I push for new readings of the representations of disordered eating and to give voice to the writers rather than silencing them.

Available for download on Sunday, November 17, 2019

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