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Breast Cancer: Communication and the Body

This assignment has two parts.
Part 1 shouldn’t be more than 1 page. Part 2 can maybe be 1 1/2, but all I ask is that you answer the questions thoroughly. There are no page requirements except that there shouldn’t be more than two pages for each of these parts.

Please complete this assignment in 22 hours.

Part 1

Read Dr. Bartell’s Prelude; note, this is a true story, her story. Then address the following:

  1. What resonates with you in this writing? Why?

  2. Identify as many communicative layers or instances as you can. What type of communication is taking place? Who is experiencing and taking part in this? To answer this question thoroughly, you really need to think beyond communication as mere message transmission.
  3. Considering the instances identified above, what is significant about them in terms of the narrator’s experience (of her life, of her embodiment)?

  4. What makes this a body story? What does this body story show us about the relationship between communication and the body?

Part 2

Read Chapter 1 of Dr. Bartell’s story

You do not have to understand every aspect of this chapter or every idea introduced to learn something important about communication and its constitutive role in our lives. You do, however, need to be prepared to read this closely and perhaps more than once. Please plan accordingly.


After reading, you will address the following questions. Please cite page numbers and use direct quotes as needed to support your answers:


  1. What point is Bartell trying to make by emphasizing that the stories we tell are partial and selective? How might this relate to the communication (discourse) we encounter about the body, in say, medical settings?

  2. Provide one example from the chapter that illustrates how the stories we tell impact the way we come to understand things about the world and our bodies.

  3. Provide one example from the reading that illustrates how cultural values are represented in medical, scientific, mediated, etc. communication about the body.

  4. What is the Breast Cancer Patient subject-position or narrative and what are its characteristics? Where does this story come from?

  5. Why was the informational literature Bartell received so important to her experience? What does she say about this in this chapter? Given all that was covered in this chapter about medical and scientific discourse, narratives, and information, why do you think Bartell wants to study the American Cancer Society Detailed Guides? What do you think she will find?

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