Complete Story


Special Issue – Disability, 50.3 pages: 194-202

Managing Visibility: Emotion, Mascots, and the Birth of US Cancer Rhetorics


Cancer rhetoric’s development in the twentieth-century United States provides a striking example of the risks and rewards of visibility. Twentieth-century efforts to publicize cancer improved the quality of life of cancer patients, supported public education, and promoted fundraising. However, the effort to appeal to the public generated lines of argument that made the disease visible in a manner that was removed from the complex identities and experiences of people with cancer. Cancer topoi persistently obscure the reality of impairment in order to uphold normative values, a pattern that points toward strong links between chronic illness and disability.



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