I’ve just completed this provocative and useful exploration of how literature and art help us make sense of illness and the end of life. There are a few spaces left for the encore session in January – sign up today!
Death comes for all of us, and for those we love—often after long bouts of debilitating disease. What role can art and literature play in understanding and enduring these losses?
In this seminar, we’ll consider how illness and the end of life are represented across genres, with explorations of: Atul Guwande’s nonfiction study Being Mortal; Paul Kalanithi’s memoir When Breath Becomes Air; Scott McPherson’s award-winning play Marvin’s Room; Reviewing the Skull, a poetry collection by five-time ovarian cancer patient Judy Rowe Michaels; Lisa Genova’s novel Still Alice and its film adaptation; and numerous works of visual art in Portland Art Museum’s collections.
How do these representations move, enlighten, engage, and assure us? How can they shape our own experience of sickness, death, and grief?
Thursdays, January 12–February 23, 20176–8 p.m.
Location: Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Ave, Portland OR 97205
Guide: A former faculty member at UCLA and Reed College, Lois Leveen is the author of the novels Juliet’s Nurse and The Secrets of Mary Bowser. She has written about literature, history, and culture for The Atlantic, The Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and NPR.
From 2016–2019 the Death Talk Project organized workshops, rituals, Death Cafés, a monthly movie night, and other events. This legacy site documents our approach to useful, honest conversation about how we die, how we mourn, and how we care for and remember our dead.