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date: 16 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter situates Miriam Engelberg’s 2006 memoir, Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person, within the larger context of discussions about the politics of the master narrative of breast cancer. This master narrative dictates that stories about breast cancer should treat the illness as a positive experience leading to self-improvement. While some critics have productively pushed back against this master narrative, their efforts run the risk of establishing a too-limiting alternative master narrative. From this alternative perspective, Engelberg’s persistent irony is politically problematic because it ultimately reinforces the master narrative: “I find redemptive humor in this experience.” Taking a rhetorical approach, this chapter counters that view. It examines Engelberg’s uses of irony and her deployment of a lyric-narrative progression in order to accomplish her purposes of depicting the grim realities of her experience, finding therapeutic value in her comics, and providing an account that can be useful to others.

Keywords: comic books, Miriam Engelberg, breast cancer, master narrative, rhetoric, irony, ethics, politics, lyric narrative

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