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Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 321–334 | Cite as

Allegories of the Bioethical: Reading J.M. Coetzee’s Diary of a Bad Year

  • Stuart J. MurrayEmail author
Article

Abstract

This essay reads J.M. Coetzee’s novel, Diary of a Bad Year, as an occasion to problematize contemporary bioethical (and neoliberal) paradigms. Coetzee’s rhetorical strategies are analyzed to better understand the “scene of address” within which ethical claims can be voiced. Drawing on Foucault’s Socratic understanding of ethics as the self’s relation to itself, self-relation is explored through the rhetorical figure of catachresis. The essay ultimately argues that the ethical voice emerges when the terms—terms by which I relate to myself, to others, to my own body, and to the bodies of others—are themselves subject to catachrestic refiguration.

Keywords

Bioethics Catachresis J.M. Coetzee Michel Foucault Rhetoric 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Canada Research Chair in Rhetoric and Ethics, Department of English Language and LiteratureCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada

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