Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Humanities Consortium convenes at Lehigh

Anne Hunsaker Hawkins will deliver the keynote address.

The fourth annual Pennsylvania Humanities Consortium will be hosted at Lehigh University on Sunday, April 30 and Monday, May 1.

The conference will begin with a literary reading that will be open to the campus community and the public from 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday in the university’s Humanities Center.

David Biro, a professor of dermatology at the State University of New York’s Downstate Medical Center, will read from his illness narrative One Hundred Days: My Unexpected Journey from Doctor to Patient (Vintage Books). Award-winning poets Barbara Crooker and Len Roberts will also read their poems about aging.

On May 1, Anne Hunsaker Hawkins, professor of humanities at the Penn State University College of Medicine, will deliver the keynote address on “The Medical Humanities: Opportunities and Challenges.”

The humanities consortium was founded in 2003 with the goal of bringing together artists, bioethicists, creative writers and filmmakers, historians, academics, medical students, musicians, nurses, physicians, therapists, religion scholars and sociologists to focus on humanistic approaches to medicine and health, according to its organizers at Lehigh, Barbara Traister, professor of English and director of the department’s graduate program, and Elizabeth Dolan, assistant professor of English.

“The first meetings of this group were very informal,” says Traister. “Beth and I attended those and felt that this was something Lehigh should be involved with. Ever since Beth came to our department, she brought a renewed interest in medicine and the humanities, and we’re welcoming the chance to bring various disciplines together here on our campus.”

While at Lehigh, Traister has taught a number of courses related to medicine and literature, including “The Doctor in Society,” an historical overview of the re-conceptualized role of the physician over centuries, and “Diary of a Lehigh Graduate,” which involved a student review of the journals of a World War I physician. Earlier, she taught for several years at the Medical College of Pennsylvania, which has since become part of the Drexel University College of Medicine.

Lehigh courses taught by Dolan involve examinations of deviance and disability in American culture, illness and blame in 20th century literature, and creativity in Alzheimer’s patients. Before coming to Lehigh, Dolan taught medicine and literature in the University of North Carolina Medical School.

Other Lehigh professors presenting at the consortium will be Judith Lasker, professor of sociology and co-founder of Lehigh’s Community Fellows program, who will speak on “Older Women Living With Chronic Disease: Role Change, Stigma and Coping” and Laura Katz Olson, professor and chair of the political science department, who will discuss “The Politics of Medicaid Policy in the States.”

Also presenting will be a panel of medical students from the Penn State College of Medicine, who will discuss their educational experience.

Workshops will focus on the treatment of depression as well as the establishment or restructuring of a medical humanities program.

Funding for the consortium is being provided by the Dean’s Office of the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Lehigh University Provost’s Office.

For more information on the consortium, please call (610) 758-3311 or go online.

--Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Thursday, April 27, 2006

share this story: