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"History and AIDS in Was and Angels in America"
Extrapolation (2008)
  • Susan Knabe, University of Western Ontario

As Peter Dickinson observes of AIDS discourses in his article, "Go-Go Dancing on the Brink of the Apocalypse," "the initial dis-ease surrounding the disease has given way to a whole new industry of discursive inquiry.This has resulted in the production and proliferation of a number of competing AIDS discourses, many of which are characteristically apocalyptic in tone" (219). It is precisely this theoretical framing of the AIDS crisis that fantasy has the potential to begin to undo, or, perhaps more accurately, to nuance. Fantastical representations of AIDS suggest the possibility of alternate futures (and pasts), in part because they are able to map the limitations of imagination in relation to AIDS, a mapping which foregrounds the imbrication of history, bodies, knowledge, and the embodiment of knowledge. As neither overtly political nor obviously elegiac, the two most common responses of mimetic fiction to the epidemic, the fantastic works to undo the certainties both of these mimetic responses entail, while at the same time recognising the historical, social and psychic truths that underwrite these responses. That fantastic writing about AIDS offers an important, even necessary, alternative to mimetic responses is something I will take up more fully later in this paper

  • AIDS,
  • critical health studies,
  • literature,
  • Geoff Ryman,
  • science fiction,
  • American literature,
  • gay fiction,
  • gay drama
Publication Date
Summer 2008
Citation Information
Susan Knabe. ""History and AIDS in Was and Angels in America"" Extrapolation Vol. 39 Iss. 2 (2008)
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