Faculty of Health and Social Care Guest Lecture

11th Oct 2017 - 12:00pm - 1:00pm

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“Hamlet in the Hospital: An Arts-based Response to Suffering Among the Ill and Those Who Care for Them.” – Professor Arthur Frank

Arthur Frank is professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Calgary, where he has taught since 1975. He currently is professor at VID Specialized University, Bergen, Norway, and core faculty at the Center for Narrative Practice in Boston. He lives in Calgary.

Trained as a medical sociologist (Ph.D., Yale, 1975), he is the author of a memoir of critical illness, At the Will of the Body (1991; new edition 2002); a study of first-person illness narratives, The Wounded Storyteller (1995; expanded edition, 2013); a book on care as dialogue, The Renewal of Generosity: Illness, Medicine and How to Live (2004); and most recently, a book on how stories affect our lives, Letting Stories Breathe: A Socio-narratology (2010).


After several decades of studying first-person, non-fiction accounts of illness, and realizing how ill people’s troubles are mirrored in the troubles of those who care for the ill, I turn to literary fiction to push inquiry into forms of suffering that resist articulation. What we cannot say for ourselves, literature can say for us. This lecture discusses how Hamlet represents suffering, and it reports on the beginnings of the Hamlet in the Hospital project of organizing support groups around readers’ theatre. This work seeks to expand the scope of narrative medicine and health humanities.

Small group discussion

This discussion group will provide the opportunity for staff and students whose interests lie with narrative research to discuss their work and ideas with Professor Frank.