Date of Award

May 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Member

Walt Hunter

Committee Member

Clare Mullaney

Committee Member

Jordan Frith


Arranging the experiences of our lives in some kind of order gives us a way to make sense of ourselves, others, and the things that happen to us. The singular chaos of being in a body, being of a body, becomes a little easier to articulate when channeled through a narrative form. Perhaps this is why scholars of literature and medicine have become increasingly interested in diaristic, autobiographical accounts of illness, or illness narratives. Texts of this variety, emerging in print around the mid-twentieth century and proliferating online through the present, contain the experience of illness in a manageable framework. Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we might turn to accounts of illness shared by those who’ve contracted the SARS-CoV-2 virus to help us make sense of these “unprecedented times.” If we attend to this emergent new form, the COVID-19 illness narrative, and learn from what it shows us about ourselves, we might have a meaningful story to tell when inevitably one day we are asked, “What happened?”



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