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Dissertation Medal Winner 2023

Poems from the Patient Patient | finding Amor Fati

Part 2 Dissertation 2023
Chloe Shang
Royal College of Art | UK
In ‘The Body in Pain’, Elaine Scarry describes that physical pain ‘does not simply resist language but actively destroys it, bringing about an immediate reversion to a state anterior to language.’(1) Scarry is referring here to the sounds a baby makes before words are learned: when pain causes a regression to cries and groans, language is destroyed. By contrast, to progress from that ‘pre-language’ into speech or writing may be seen as an antidote to the experience of subjectivity being taken apart by pain.

The following dissertation may be understood as a journal and guide towards catharsis. Drawing upon diverse methodologies grounded in testimony and lived experience, architectural and spatial analysis, socio-political critique and relational thinking, I explore firstly the agency of writing as a medium and method of healing and, secondly, the inequalities, contradictions and opportunities facing the contemporary health system. My hope is that this dissertation may initiate much-needed discourse surrounding medical architecture and, ultimately, tangible change in the design and construction of our
healthcare spaces.

(1) Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World, Reprint edition (New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 1987), pp.4–8.

Chloe Shang

Mark Campbell
Emilio Distretti
Polly Gould
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