Just back from an absolutely terrific mini-residency at Duke University. I spoke in four classrooms:
- Medical Ethics and End of Life Care – we discussed how comics can unexpectedly be productive in making room for conversations in this area of care. Also did a class drawing exercise that students quickly embraced.
- Global Health Research – we discussed the oral history background of the book, and how research interviews can be an enlightening and healing experience.
- Medicine and Storytelling – we discussed Graphic Medicine more generally in the context of the work stories do in health care. A brilliant student introduced me, and Graphic Medicine, by basically summing up the importance of image and text in comics: “Have you ever experienced something that you can’t express in just words?”
- Medical Stories on Stage – This class is currently developing a stage production of the book (!) so I visited with them twice. The first time I was there to answer questions students had for this project, and the second was to hear some of their initial ideas about adaptation. It was so cool to see how creating a staging, the work of theater, was actually a way of thinking. I talk frequently about how drawing is a way of thinking, and it was terrific to see how students were thinking about, processing, the AIDS crisis, and their response to it, by making work for the stage. Wow.
I also gave a public lecture for Duke’s StoryLab of the Franklin Humanities Institute. That was a wonderful opportunity to synthesize thoughts about all of the classes above in relation to my mode of storytelling/memoir creation in healthcare. Finally, I met with three wonderful students working on independent projects in Graphic Medicine. It was a whirlwind visit but so productive and inspiring.
When not in a classroom, but occasionally on my way to one, Duke and the local bike shop were kind enough to provide me with a rental, and I loved biking around, exploring Durham.
On arrival I was thrilled to have my first “in the wild” experience with my book, in the window no less!
One of the wonderful students I met with also happens to work at the Gotham bookstore in Durham, and she sends word that it is there as well.
I am incredibly grateful to the students and faculty at Duke who were willing to engage with Graphic Medicine, and my work, and reflect back to me their ways of processing, and engaging, all of it. Special thanks goes to Dr. Jules Odendahl-James, whose students have taken on my book for staging, as she put this entire residency together and found me terrific housing. Can’t wait to visit again.