KNOW 37015, Spring 2023
Institute for the Formation of Knowledge, Classroom 104
Brian Callender, MD ([email protected])
MK Czerwiec, RN ([email protected])
What can comics contribute to the discourse on dying and death? What insights can comics provide into the experience of dying, death, caregiving, grieving, and memorialization? Can comics help us better understand our own wishes about the end of life? Death Panels: Exploring Dying and Death Through Comics is an interactive course designed to introduce students to the field of graphic medicine and explore how comics can be used as a mode of scholarly investigation into issues related to dying, death, and the end of life. Through didactics, discussion, and interactive activities, this course provides students with a unique interdisciplinary and creative opportunity to explore dying and death.
This course will balance readings and discussion with creative drawing and comics-making assignments. This work is intended to provoke personal inquiry, self-reflection, and understanding about a range of topics relating to the end of life. Topics covered will include examining defining death, exploring how we die, euthanasia, rituals around dying and death, and grieving. The readings will primarily be drawn from a wide variety of graphic memoirs and comics, but will be supplemented with materials from a variety of multimedia sources including the biomedical literature, philosophy, cinema, podcasts, and the visual arts.
Taught by a nurse-cartoonist and a physician, both of whom are active in the graphic medicine community and scholars of the health humanities, the course will primarily be taught from a biomedical and health humanities perspective.
No prior knowledge or experience of graphic novels, comics, drawing, medicine, or death required.
- Develop an awareness of and appreciation for one’s values and attitudes about the end of life
- Appreciate the unique properties of comics to convey difficult and complex subject matter
- Understand how the medium of comics can uniquely explore and express end-of-life experiences, including caregiving, grief, and memorialization
- Engage with drawing and the creation of comics as a self-reflective exercise
Course Readings and Materials:
This course will explore end-of-life issues through a variety of media. While the primary focus will be on drawing and comics, supplemental articles, book chapters, and podcasts, academic and medical literature will also be used. Some basic drawing supplies will be provided, but students are encouraged to find a sketchbook to their liking that they will use thoughout the course.